Green Goddess Dressing

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I hardly know where to begin here, so maybe I'll just start at the beginning, which happens to be sometime in the 1920's when a chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco had a moment of transcendent brilliance and discovered what would become the legendary dressing we're still talking about almost 100 years later.  And that would, of course, be the above-mentioned Green Goddess.  It was standard fare in most restaurants that I remember back in the 60's and 70's along with French, Italian, blue cheese and thousand island.  Then I think ranch dressing took over and changed the whole game.  But green goddess is now having another moment which is indeed a good thing. 

The original version is mayonnaise-based and included anchovies, vinegar and herbs which were stirred together and used to dress all manor of salads, but it wasn't until sometime later that someone threw it all in a blender and its namesake began to make a little more sense.  See the dramatic representation of this below...

           original and authentic green goddess dressing

          original and authentic green goddess dressing

                               Green goddess after processing

                              Green goddess after processing

Now, not only did giving it a trip through the blender create a much prettier dressing, but to my mind (having tasted both), it also enhanced the flavor by releasing the herbaceous qualities of the herbs and creating something altogether more interesting and tasty.

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If you were to search green goddess dressing on the interwebs, you would notice right off that there are no less than 68 thousand versions of this iconic dressing, and you would be hard pressed to know where to even start.  I've saved you a bit of trouble and heartache by testing out quite a few of them and comparing them to the original recipe which you can find here

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If you would like to be adventurous and seek out the options and possibilities, I will forewarn you that yogurt is not an agreeable ingredient.  I love yogurt in most things, but here it creates a chalky texture that is somewhat unpleasant.  So let's stick with the original mayonnaise base, shall we?  The other ingredient you may be tempted to add is avocado, to which I have no objections, but it actually doesn't add that much in terms of flavor, so I didn't include it.  But you get to add it if you want.  That's how this works, see?

As for the anchovies, I love them in anything, but there really were a lot in the original and it seemed like overkill in that department, so I used a little less than originally called for.  But I recommend you not leave them out as they lend a depth of flavor that's pretty awesome. Anchovy paste works just fine if you have it. 

Parsley, tarragon and chives are the herbs used originally, but many recipes out there include basil, which I thought was good, but you can leave it out if you want to be authentic.

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As you can see this recipe produces a thick dressing that can handle dip duty if you're so inclined.  We love it with veggies and it's great on crackers and chips.  So dip away! 

If it seems a little thick to you, you can thin it with buttermilk or olive oil until it's pourable, which, of course, isn't authentic, but I thought it sort of needed, and it didn't actually affect the flavor much at all.  It's lovely drizzled over any salad, but is particularly good on a cobb.  The acidity in it makes it also very delicious drizzled over hard-boiled eggs, shrimp or crab.

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Alrighty then, people.  If you're feeling like going a bit retro on your salad tonight, green goddess just may be your ticket.  Here's the recipe..

Green Goddess Dressing

This is the original recipe from the Palace Restaurant in San Francisco.  I made a few changes to the recipe as noted below.  Feel free to stick with the original!  

Click here for a printable recipe

Makes almost 2 cups of dressing/dip

  • 4-5 anchovy fillets (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste)
  • 1 small green onion (light parts only)
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced tarragon
  • 1 1/2 cups prepared mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup finely snipped chives

Instructions:
Mince anchovies with green onion; transfer to a bowl.  Add parsley, tarragon, mayonnaise, tarragon vinegar and chives; mix well. The dressing can be made ahead.

Alternately, if you'd like to use a blender, you don't have to mince your herbs, just place all of the ingredients into a blender, food processor or use a stick blender in a 2-3 cup jar. Process until the herbs are almost completely incorporated into the dressing.  Taste and adjust the seasonings. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate.  If desired, thin with a little olive oil and/or buttermilk, being sure to taste again for salt and pepper.