Sunday, August 3, 2014

Green Goddess Dressing...or Dip...

At some point during the middle of last summer I noticed that my blog posts all seemed to be revolving around one particular topic: salad.   I didn't seem to be able to get enough of salads filled with an abundance of seasonal vegetables and fruits.  This year I have noticed another trend:  mayonnaise based dressings.  And they all happen to be green.  In June it was the mint aioli to go with roast rack of lamb.  In July, it was a roasted garlic and basil mayonnaise to accompany a roasted garlic and basil smeared roast chicken.  And today, it is that classic herb-laden dressing known as Green Goddess Dressing.

As a kid (and probably for a few years after that) I thought that Green Goddess Dressing included avocado purée.  I don't know if this is because of the color of the jars/bottles of the dressing I saw on the shelves at the grocery store or if I had some vague notion that the original Green Goddess salad included avocadoes.  I sort of doubt it was the latter since up until I was well into my adult years my knowledge of food was pretty rudimentary.  Since during my childhood I would only have eaten an avocado under duress (I didn't have a very friendly relationship with vegetables...or fruit, for that matter), and then when I learned that they were delicious I was afraid they would make me fat (they won't, by the way), Green Goddess dressing wasn't something that I had ever looked into too deeply.

Then, a few years ago, I had reason to make some Green Goddess dip.  I discovered that it is simply a friendly, creamy dressing/dip made with loads of parsley.  (It also has anchovies...something else my younger self would have avoided...but by the time I learned this, I was already in love with the subtle savory saltiness that anchovies impart when used properly.)  I believe the original version of the dressing includes all of the fines herbes—parsley, chives, chervil and tarragon—and you may add any or all of these if you like—but parsley is the most important addition and the chives, tarragon and chervil should all be added with a lighter hand.  My recipe includes scallions.  I'm not sure where I came by this addition, but I like the sharpness that it adds.

Green Goddess dressing is very easy to make.  Simply make it in the food processor, building a whole egg mayonnaise on top of a fine mince of the herbs, scallions, garlic and anchovy.  Season to taste with salt, vinegar and lemon juice.  The dressing should be lively and acidic.  It will take more salt and lemon than you season fearlessly, tasting as you go.  You'll know you've gotten it right when you start looking around for more things with which to sample it...a spear of romaine...a cherry tomato...a carrot stick...  a spoon...

Many variations of Green Goddess are made by folding the minced herb/anchovy/garlic mixture into a mixture of half prepared mayonnaise (you may make your own, or use a good quality commercial brand) and half sour cream.  This version is slightly thicker and it is the version I make when I need a dip for a crudité platter.  If you make it this way, you will need to reduce your vinegar and lemon by quite a bit since mayonnaise is already acidic and sour cream has its own pleasant tang. 

This week I made a batch of dressing for a salad I found in Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques.  I had had in mind a salad for a summer salad class that was to be a study in greens...avocado, cucumber, Romaine and Green Goddess Dressing...when I saw that Goin had already done the work for me and published a recipe that included all of these elements—called, of course, Green Goddess Salad.  I have added thinly sliced radishes to the mix—copying my friend Nancy's addition to Caesar salad.  The radish adds a pleasing splash of color, zip and even more crunch. 

Since the recipe makes more than we could possibly consume in two small dinner salads, I have been coming up with ways to use my Green Goddess dressing all week long. 

Thinned with a little water, I drizzled it over a lunchtime platter of vine ripes and avocado...

I also used it to dress a salad of Romaine featuring roasted corn, avocado and wedges of tomato...

And today I used it as a smear on a sandwich of thinly sliced steak, yellow tomatoes, arugula and shaved sheep's milk cheese...

All were delicious.  In addition to vegetables, I'm certain it would be wonderful with fish, chicken or lamb.  Frankly, it would be hard to come up with something that wouldn't be improved by a little parsley and onion...some salt and acidity...and of course, some fat.  I still have a small amount left and am sure I will enjoy it no matter how I choose to use it.   Even after a week of eating it almost every day....I'm still not the least bit tired of it.

Green Goddess Dressing

1 c. flat-leaf parsley leaves (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 oz.)
2 to 3 scallions, white and some of green, roughly cut into 1/2-inch pieces   (you should have about 1/2 cup)
2 to 3 anchovy filets—preferably salt-packed—deboned and rinsed
1 clove of garlic, smashed to a purée with a pinch of salt
1 egg
1 cup vegetable oil
1 T. plus 1 t. champagne vinegar
1 1/2 T. lemon juice—plus more as necessary to balance
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Place the parsley, anchovies and scallions in the food processor and pulse until finely minced.  Add the garlic and egg and process until homogenous.  With the machine running, add the oil in a slow stream through the feed tube.  A thick emulsion will form. Add the vinegar and lemon juice and process in.  Taste and adjust the lemon, salt and pepper...the dressing should be vibrant, tangy and salty.  If it is too thick, adjust the consistency with warm water.  Makes a generous 1 1/2 cups of dressing.  Cover and chill until ready to use.

Note: For a more traditional—and thicker version appropriate for a dip—omit the oil and egg.  Add a half cup of mayonnaise (homemade or your favorite commercial brand) and a half cup of sour cream along with the garlic to the minced parsley, scallion and anchovy.  Add vinegar and lemon juice to will need less since a commercial mayonnaise already has vinegar and lemon in it.  Start with a tablespoon of lemon juice and increase to taste. 

Green Goddess Salad

2 large Romaine hearts, trimmed (about a pound, trimmed weight)
1 large (or 2 or 3 small) cucumber (about 1 lb.)
2 large avocados
5 to 6 radishes, trimmed and scrubbed
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 c. Green Goddess Dressing.....using more or less, to taste

Wash and spin dry the lettuce.  Tear any larger leaves into two or three pieces, leaving the small inner leaves whole.  Cover with a barely damp towel, cover tightly with plastic wrap (or store in a container with a sealable lid) and chill.

Taste the cucumber and peel if the skin is at all tough.  Halve lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon.  Cut cross-wise on a slight diagonal into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Halve, pit and peel the avocados.  Cut into lengthwise wedges.  Thinly slice the radishes (use a mandoline slicer).

To finish the salad, place the greens in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add 1 cup of the dressing and toss until all the romaine is well coated.  Season the cucumber and avocado with salt and pepper and add to the bowl along with the radishes.  Gently toss to combine.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  Arrange on a large platter or individual plates and serve.  Serves 6.

(Recipe adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin)

Variation: For a "chopped"-style salad, cut the romaine leaves cross-wise in 3/4-inch ribbons.  Cube the avocado and quarter the cucumber lengthwise before slicing crosswise.  Dress and serve as above.  

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