A few years ago, I came across Grace Parisi's simple buttermilk salad dressing recipe in Food and Wine magazine. I was looking for an alternative to our standard vinaigrettes, so I adapted her version using what we had on hand (we've always got creme fraiche in the fridge; sour cream, not so much), and it was pretty much love at first taste. I most often make a version studded with chunks of creamy blue cheese, but I decided to go for a somewhat lighter spin to dress a beautiful head of red-tinged butterhead lettuce I brought home from the farmers' market yesterday. The herbs added a fresh bite, and the cool tang of the buttermilk was really welcome on a hot and sticky evening.
about 1/2 a cup
small garlic clove, preferably fresh young garlic
coarse sea salt
white wine or champagne vinegar
freshly ground pepper
each snipped or finely chopped fresh parsley, tarragon, chives, chervil, and lemon balm
Peel any tough skin off of the garlic and roughly chop the clove. Sprinkle on a healthy pinch of salt and mash the garlic and salt to a paste with the side of your knife. Combine the garlic paste, creme fraiche, mayonnaise and vinegar in a lidded jar or small bowl, and shake or whisk until combined. Add the buttermilk and herbs and shake or whisk again. Taste and season with pepper and additional salt, if needed. Chill until ready to serve.