The recipe for Green Goddess dressing has a storied past, originating as a sauce for eel on the plate of Louis XIII. In 1923, the creamy rich condiment made its U.S. debut at the San Francisco Palace Hotel as a salad dressing in honor of British actor George Arliss, who was appearing in the play “Green Goddess.”
Today, this finger-licking-good dressing is still widely enjoyed with hundreds of recipe variations. The almost 100-year-old “formula” for Green Goddess dressing is my favorite kind (and soon shall be yours) kind of recipe because it is quick and easy to prepare. The ingredients are on hand, and it tastes delicious and different every time.
The flavor base of this piquant sauce are two ingredients almost always in my refrigerator: a good quality mayonnaise and a Greek or full-fat yogurt. Pantry items include garlic, lemon juice and anchovies. A light vinegar like champagne or white wine also can provide the acidity. For a vegetarian version, the salty flavor of capers can substitute for the anchovies.
While a quick trip to the garden produces fresh herbs, the variety is dependent upon the season. Parsley and basil, rosemary, dill, cilantro, mint, tarragon, thyme, oregano, chervil, chives and green onions and sage are all tasty additions and create a vibrant, bright green sauce.
The food processor or blender whips up this dressing quite quickly. The final step in this 10-minute process is the most important and produces the best variations. TASTE!
The key to the flavor is finding the balance between the richness of the mayonnaise and yogurt, the springy green of fresh herbs, the acidity and the salt. Taste, adjust your seasonings, and taste again.
Instead of a sauce for eels, we enjoy Green Goddess dressing as accompaniment to grilled fish, particularly halibut. A jar of Green Goddess in the refrigerator is like a meal waiting to happen: Toss the green goodness with pasta, or gnocchi, and add chopped asparagus and other veggies. Use it as a marinade for chicken, rabbit or shrimp. Addictive as a dip with fresh crudité, Green Goddess dressing is also a tasty spread in a pocket sandwich, or on a spinach salad.
Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected]
Green Goddess Dressing
Makes about 1½ cups
½ cup good quality mayonnaise
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
3 Tbsps. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 oil-packed anchovy fillets
½ cup parsley leaves
½ cup basil leaves
2 Tbsps. finely chopped fresh tarragon or dill weed
3 Tbsps. minced fresh chives or green onions
Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
In the bowl of your food processor or blender, combine the mayonnaise, basil leaves, lemon juice, chopped garlic, anchovies and parsley leaves. Process until smooth and uniformly green. Scrape into a bowl.
Finely chop the remaining fresh herbs.
Stir the herbs into the mixture. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper.
Serve as a dip for crudité, a dressing for salad, or a sauce for pasta.
Nutritional analysis per tablespoon: 71 calories, less than 1 gram protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fat, 150 mg. sodium, less than 1 gram fiber.