Hearts of Romaine with Buttermilk Parmesan Dressing & Pepita Croutons

Hearts of Romaine with Buttermilk Parmesan Dressing

I will never tire of salad with amazing extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or a wonderful aged balsamic, however, I wanted a little something different for my Valentine’s Dinner. The theme of this year’s dinner was a twist on old favorites, or a fresh way to make comfort foods. The salad was inspired by my niece, Shannon, who called my homemade dressing FANCY RANCH. She told me she appreciates that I don’t cut corners in my cooking (meaning the dressing does not come out of a bottle!). You can call it Buttermilk Parmesan or FANCY RANCH, but it’s loaded with fresh herbs and flavor and it’s simple to make. I love these crunchy Pepita Croutons to top it off!

Ingredients for Buttermilk Paresan aka Fancy Ranch

Serves 12


2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped chives

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon dry mustard

½ teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Buttermilk Parmesan AKA Fancy Ranch

Add all ingredients to mason jar and shake to combine. Keeps in fridge for a week or longer. 

Pepita Croutons


1 cup raw pepitas

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoons olive oil

Pinch red chili flakes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Pepita Croutons:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Spread out on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Break into pieces. Season with additional sea salt. Serve as croutons for salad, a savory crunchy topping on yogurt, or simply as a snack. 



6 Romaine hearts, quartered

2 Watermelon radishes, thinly sliced

Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded for garnish 

Chives, for garnish  

 To assemble salad:

Place two pieces of Romaine hearts on each plate. Since it was Valentine’s I used my frilliest pink plates and mixed all the floral patterns. Drizzle with lettuce with Buttermilk Parmesan Dressing. Garnish with Pepita Croutons, shredded Parmesan, watermelon radishes, and fresh chives. 

Hearts of Romaine with Buttermilk Parmesan Dressing & Pepita Croutons

The day after our Valentine’s Dinner we made the best salad with the leftovers! I chopped all the vegetables from the crudité platter and added them to the Romaine hearts. A perfect dinner!