Cooking with Vanilla: Tarragon-Vanilla Salad Dressing

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Makes about 2 1/2 cups

This creamy, low-fat dressing lends itself to salad greens, cooked or raw vegetable combinations, pasta and grain salads, or as a dipping sauce for crudités or steamed artichoke leaves. It may be prepared with low-fat mayonnaise instead of yogurt for a richer flavor.

• 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed garlic
• 1 teaspoon dijon-style mustard
• 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh tarragon, oregano, and basil
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
• 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Dash Tabasco sauce or 1 fresh chile, minced, to taste
• Dash freshly ground pepper
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1 cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt

1. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients, whisking until smooth. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and/or lemon juice. Refrigerate until needed.

2. The flavor improves on standing. The dressing will keep for up to a week.

Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay are a well-known pair of longtime chefs and herb gardeners who make their home in the tiny town of Round Top in central Texas.

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