I don't know why, but ever since the beginning of the year, I've been craving ranch dressing for our salads. My husband loves honey-mustard, and it's easy as pie: 1 part each of honey, dijon mustard, and mayo. But sometimes you just want a good oniony, garlicky ranch dressing, and honey mustard just won't do.
All the brands but one that I found in the health food store had chemical-experiment ingredients, and the other one was not ideal (pasteurized milk, weird mayo). All the recipes I googled called for buttermilk, but I never use it for anything else so I don't buy or culture my own. It seems, however, that the history of Ranch dressing is such that it was made up by dairy folk for the express purpose of using up extra buttermilk generated in the butter-making process. Being a hippie instead of a dairy farmer, I instead have an abundance of kefir piling up around my kitchen all the time, and thought, why not try that in place of the buttermilk? They're both cultured dairy products, so would impart tanginess and that indefinable dairy taste. Yum. The only thing that worried me was that distinct kefir zing, but it turns out the powdered garlic masks it just fine.
This recipe makes a pretty liquidy dressing; if you wish for a sturdier dressing, you may want to try using less kefir and more mayo. If you want something sturdier yet, like a dip, try making kefir cheese (see above kefir link; scroll to the bottom) and use that instead.
1c homemade kefir
1/2 c mayo
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp fresh chives (can use 1/4 tsp dried chives, or 1/4 tsp powdered onion in a pinch)
1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
1/8 tsp pepper or to taste
(may also use 1tsp lemon juice, but I don't)
Combine all ingredients in a 12-oz jar, cap it, and shake vigorously. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes for best results (this allows the flavors to meld), or just eat right away if you're in a hurry.