Grilled romaine scaled

One Simple Sauce, Three Tasty Sides

Salad with buttermilk dressing.

Recipes | By Margaret M. Johnson

I discovered this lovely buttermilk-enhanced dressing a few years ago and found that it’s far more versatile that I ever imagined. The first and most obvious use was for a simple lettuce and tomato salad. It was so delicious that I tried it on grilled tomatoes and, later, on grilled romaine, yes, grilled romaine lettuce. All three are tasty summer sides to accompany steak, lamb or burgers. You can even top baked potatoes with it instead of using sour cream and chives.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.



2 tablespoons buttermilk

1/2 cup sour cream or mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce


Ground black pepper

1 tablespoon each chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, dill, or chives

1. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, sour cream or mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Let stand for 20 to 25 minutes (can be made a day ahead; cover and refrigerate).


1 (10-ounce) bag mixed greens

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1. In a large bowl, combine mixed greens and tomatoes; toss with half the dressing. Pass additional dressing in a jug.


6 large tomatoes, cut in half horizontally

Olive oil for brushing


Ground black pepper

1.Brush the cut side of the tomatoes with olive oil and grill, cut-side down, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until slightly charred. Serve topped with a spoonful of dressing.


3 to 4 romaine hearts (the tight inner leaves of the lettuce)

3 tablespoons olive oil


Ground black pepper

1. Discard any large outer leaves of lettuce. Cut about an inch off of top and trim about 1/2 inch off of bottom (leave the root end intact). If the romaine is large, cut it in half lengthwise.

2. Brush olive oil all over lettuce and season with salt and pepper. Grill lettuce, turning frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve topped with a spoonful of dressing

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page also includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, or to order a signed copy of her new cookbook “Teatime in Ireland,” visit