ONCE UPON A TIME...there was a wonderful seafood and steakhouse called "Fanny Baer's Restaurant", located in Sandusky, Ohio from 1980 to 1986. My sister was lucky enough to live nearby, and she told fabulous stories about meals here with her husband Wayne. Wayne was a nuclear welder and traveled a lot with his job, but when they were dating and later married, he would impress her with a fancy dinner at Fanny Baers - and by ordering not only shrimp cocktail, a fresh-cut steak, but also king crab legs and sometimes lobster - for a single meal! He was a tall, lanky guy and never had a weight problem - but we were always amazed at how much he could eat! And Fanny Baer's was one of his favorite restaurants.
I don't think I ever made it past the basket of fresh-baked warm rye and sourdough bread and house salad - "Fanny Baer's Salad". We loved it, we dreamed about it, and whenever we were in town we devoured it!
The dressing on the Fanny Baer Salad was TO DIE FOR - so incredibly fresh and flavorful! We would actually purchase containers of the homemade salad dressing from Fanny Baer's to carefully bring back home to Minnesota in a cooler to enjoy as long as we could make it last! And there was no sharing - this creamy, fresh dressing was liquid gold!
When the restaurant closed, we all cried - and my sister tried in vain to get the recipe for the famous Fanny Baer Salad Dressing.
For years we have tried to find the recipe, to no avail. One of my personal challenges has been to try and create the infamous Fanny Baer Salad. I finally tinkered around and created our own recipe, which is SPOT ON! This homemade Avocado Ranch Dressing is to die for - and exactly as I remember it!
But it is at its absolute finest when served with the Fanny Baer Salad - the best salad combo ever! Salad greens are topped with huge, fresh shrimp and delicate mandarin oranges, drizzled with this creamy homemade Avocado Ranch Dressing, and topped with fresh toasted coconut.
It's a crazy combination, but even Skipper, who doesn't care for coconut AT ALL, LOVED this salad! Good thing, because this wonderful fresh and flavorful salad is now part of our regular salad rotation!
I can't begin to tell you how wonderful this salad is - you'll need to make it yourself and let me know what you think!
And to my sister Sue - this one is for you, with all my love!
AVOCADO RANCH DRESSING:
2 large avocado, ripe
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. fresh dill
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Juice from ½ lime
1 tsp. honey (optional)
FANNY BAER SALAD:
1 (10 oz.) package fresh salad mix (or 1 head fresh iceburg lettuce)
1 8 oz. bag bay shrimp
1-2 cans (15 oz. each) mandarin orange segments (chilled & drained well)
2/3 cup coconut (toasted)
Avocado Ranch Dressing
HOW I MAKE THIS:
AVOCADO RANCH CHICKEN SALAD: Replace the shrimp with sliced chicken breast, and add 1 sliced fresh avocado, ½ cup diced red onion, ½ cup shredded carrots, ½ cup diced cucumbers and ¼ cup dried tart cherries or craisins; skip the mandarin orange segments and toasted coconut and top with Avocado Ranch Dressing.
SOUTHWEST CHICKEN SALAD WITH AVOCADO RANCH DRESSING: Replace the shrimp with grilled chicken breast chunks, 1 cup of sweet corn (fresh or canned), ½ cup black beans (drained and rinsed), sliced avocado and fresh cherry tomatoes; skip the mandarin orange segments and toasted coconut, and top with Avocado Ranch Dressing.
BLT PASTA SALAD WITH AVOCADO RANCH DRESSING: Add 2 cups of cooked rotini pasta to the salad greens, and add crumbled hickory-smoked bacon, fresh tomatoes. Skip the shrimp and toasted coconut, and top with Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing for a wonderful summertime treat!
GRILLED SALMON WITH AVOCADO RANCH SAUCE: Drizzle Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing on top of grilled salmon for a wonderful taste sensation!
AVOCADO RANCH DIP: Serve the Avocado Ranch Dressing as a flavorful dip with fresh vegetables – so flavorful and something different!
CREAMY AVOCADO RANCH DRESSING is also not only delicious with fresh cut vegetables and potato chips, it’s also a wonderful spread for sandwiches.
Original recipe published May 2016; revised and reposted April 2023.
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