This is my knock-off version of a Costa Vida/Cafe Rio style dressing. I’m always getting asked for this recipe, so I finally wrote down what I do! There’s millions of recipes out there for this type of thing and a lot of the good ones call for fresh tomatillos. However after experimenting quite a bit I decided I didn’t like the fresh tomatillos, in this instance. For one thing it’s not something I have laying around my kitchen on a regular basis so I have to plan in advance to buy them. Then I didn’t like the weird, watery texture they added to the dressing. So I started using a much easier substitution: Green salsa. Green salsa is made primarily from tomatillos and other things like jalapenos, limes, etc. And it’s different than “green sauce” like Pace for example. Make sure to check the ingredient list and see that tomatillos are listed as the top ingredient. See my note below about the different brands. This is stuff I always have around so I can whip it up any time the craving comes along. And it comes along often! I love love love this lime cilantro dressing. I totally dip my finger in it when it sits around in my fridge. But don’t worry- if I ever invite you over for dinner I’ll make a fresh batch. I promise.
This really only takes about 60 seconds to make, and then allow for a bit of time for it to set up. Just pop everything in a blender and wiz away. (I’m using my Blendtec for this. If you don’t have one, and you love a good blender – think about investing in one). We start with a base of Hidden Valley Ranch mix, buttermilk or regular is fine, and add in fresh garlic, cilantro, lime juice, green salsa, and buttermilk. After all that is in there and it’s blended, feel free to add hot sauce to taste, if you like.
When it’s done, pop it in the fridge to thicken and let those flavors develop.
It’s obviously awesome on salads, and also as a dip for things like chicken fingers, veggies and steak fries. If you’re making our Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos, this is pretty much required to go along with them.
- 1 pack (1oz) Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix (ignore directions on packet)
- 1C mayo
- 1/2 C buttermilk (or milk works, too)
- 1 lime
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/2 C roughly chopped cilantro
- 1/4 C green salsa*
- hot sauce
- Place milk, mayo, and ranch mix in a blender. Juice the lime in there too, you should get about 2T juice.
- Toss in the garlic, cilantro and green salsa. Blend 'er up.
- Sample it and add hot sauce to taste.
- Make it several hours ahead of time to allow it to thicken.
- If you're not used to buying green salsa, make sure to sample it first before you put it in the dressing so you know what you're getting into! La Victoria (pictured) is completely mild, whereas Herdez is much more spicy. I prefer La Victoria, as I get all of the flavor of the tomatillos but I control the level of heat with the hot sauce.
You’ve got all of the ingredients to make an Our Best Bites version right here. Start with a fresh homemade tortilla, layer on some lime-cilantro rice (pineapple optional) and black beans, then some crispy romaine lettuce. Top with either taco chicken or lime-chili steak, some fresh Pico de Gallo and guacamole and fried tortilla strips for the big finish. Smother it in this salad dressing or this vinaigrette and you’ve got a salad ready to send you to food heaven!