Summer in a Blender: Green Goddess Dressing - No. 141
It’s a dip, it’s a dressing, it’s a marinade, it’s a miracle!
Happy August everyone, and welcome to all of the new subscribers! While I’m working on a book, I hope you are enjoying my guest voices this month. Last week Domenica Marchetti shared her Italian peach crostata. (And condolences to Domenica who lost her father Frank just last Friday.) Today, I am happy to welcome guest no. 2, my daughter Kathleen, who when she isn’t teaching my absolutely adorable granddaughter to make pasta, writes about surviving a busy life with this indispensable recipe to stash in the fridge.
By Kathleen Catherall Osteen
I’ve always been someone who aspired to have a flourishing herb garden but could never keep any plant alive.
About a month ago, I was giving a description of my house to someone returning some borrowed serving dishes. “The house with the dead basil plant on the front step.” Wow. I think that dead basil plant had been sitting there for about a year, evidently past the point of revival. And on the most prominent spot on our front porch, no less.
So a few weeks later, I joined a herb-potting class at a friend’s house in the neighborhood. A local farmer named Nick, a plant expert, taught the class where we assembled herb boxes of our own.
Not unlike many lectures in high school, I don’t remember the majority of what Nick said during the class—maybe it’s because I was just so excited to have a night out without a tedious toddler bedtime routine. Though I’m pretty sure it was because as soon as he mentioned we could select “three to four herbs a person” from the variety he brought, I was laser-focused on what herbs I would claim as my own.
Needless to say, I unapologetically left with a planter box jam-packed with six different herbs—rosemary, lavender, dill, sage, thyme and oregano. My assignment, let them get some sun and water them every day.
So why do I need all these herbs? To make Green Goddess dressing, that’s why!
I learned a trick in restaurants that any home cook should adapt if they haven’t already. No, I’m not referencing the absurd amounts of butter used in restaurants, because, yikes…
After a dish is prepared, it goes to “expo” where the plate is wiped clean and topped with herbs, seasonings and finishing oils before it heads out to the guest’s table. These “flavor-boosts,” if you will, wake up the palate. The simple addition of boosts like fresh herbs, flaky sea salt, or a spicy chili oil will make a dish pop.
To liven up what we are making at home, I keep at least two to three different kinds of fresh herbs on hand in our kitchen at any given time—parsley always, then usually a rotating selection of cilantro, basil and dill. And if I’m using all these herbs at one time, what better than a green goddess dressing?
We! Love! An! All! Purpose! Sauce!
An all-purpose sauce has three things going for it—an ability to be a dip, a dressing, and a marinade.
Green Goddess Dressing is all of these:
You can dip raw veggies into it. (I suggest adding a ripe, pitted avocado to the blender to thicken it up and dip away!)
Or drizzle your green goddess as a salad dressing over roasted/grilled veggies or grain bowls. Spread it onto BLTs!
And you can marinate some chicken or shrimp before roasting or grilling, too.
So who came up with Green Goddess?
Green Goddess dressing originated at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in the 1920s on a starter salad for actor George Arliss (1868 - 1946) who was in town starring in William Archer’s play, The Green Goddess. The play became a movie, but I haven’t watched it, have you?
It appears George Arliss ate a tad too much Green Goddess, and I will admit this dressing skirts the line between abundance and resourcefulness. Abundant from the bounty of fresh herbs packed in, but also resourceful because you can use the recipe as a blueprint and substitute what herbs you have on hand.
I tried A LOT of green goddess recipes when working on this newsletter piece. (Not as much as George Arliss did, obviously, and my husband is grateful he didn’t have to sample any more.)
We used anchovies, tarragon, parsley and lemon, and the bases for the dressing ranged between mayo, greek yogurt and buttermilk. You can use any of those three. I personally like a mix of mayo and Greek yogurt. And I love how yogurt, mayonnaise, and buttermilk tenderize meat and lock in moisture while allowing for nice browning.
And please don’t fight me on the anchovies. If you’re vegetarian you can sub capers, but anchovies give this sauce umami.
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But wait, there’s more! A few surprise ingredients…
One of the batches this week had an addition I loved and adapted into my own recipe—spinach! A few years back my mom told me to start adding parsley to my pestos so they would retain their bright green color. This is a similar move. Parsley and spinach give this all-purpose sauce the bright green chlorophyll hue we’re looking for, plus added nutrients from the leafy greens, so a win-win in my book.
Oh and just so you know, I moved that planter of dead basil off the front step this week! Progress. And my new fresh herbs? It’s been 18 days since the class and I’m happy to report they’re still alive!
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Kathleen’s Green Goddess Dressing
You may not ever make Green Goddess the same way twice, and that’s okay. And for those of you reading this like “okay well I don’t have herbs” - I get it. Figure out who in your friend group has the green thumb!! You’d be surprised how often they find themselves with too much for their own household. Now that I’ve let my gardening friends know I’m always accepting excess, I’ve started getting texts in the morning like “left a big bag of dill on my front step for you”. The best way to start the day…
Makes about 2 cups
Prep: 10 to 15 minutes
5-6 anchovy filets, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1 cup spinach
¾ cup finely chopped parsley
½ cup mixed tender herbs (basil, dill, mint, cilantro)
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
½ cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup plain greek yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Place all the ingredients except the salt and pepper in a blender or large deep bowl (with an immersion blender), and blend until smooth.
Taste. Add a good pinch of salt and a couple cranks of freshly ground black pepper and blend until well combined. Taste and season more as needed, adjusting acid levels if needed by adding more lemon juice / vinegar or making it more mellow by adding a little more mayo. This keeps in the fridge up to five days.
To make a dip:
Add a whole, pitted avocado to the blender with the rest of the ingredients. Serve with raw veggies and watch it disappear. Can confirm it’s also excellent smothered on BLTs.
To make a marinade:
Marinate some chicken in green goddess overnight, reserving a portion of sauce for dipping. Remove marinated chicken from fridge an hour before placing in the oven, if possible, so the chicken isn’t cold going into the oven and it cooks faster and more evenly. Roast on a lined baking sheet in upper third of 450-degree F oven until internal temperature reaches 160F. It will continue to cook and climb up to the safe temperature of 165F after you remove it from the oven. (If you like chicken cooked longer, leave it in the oven a few more minutes.) I tested half-chickens (about 40 minutes) and bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (about 25 minutes), but any cut of the bird would do.
Tip: if you want a nice crisp, browned skin, brush the skin of the chicken with olive oil at the end of cooking and broil. Be sure to keep on an eye on it and pull it out as soon as it browns so it doesn’t burn.
Five other really good ideas:
Toss warmed rotisserie chicken with the dressing for a faux chicken salad. Arrange in lettuce cups and top with shredded carrots + cucumber. Or use as a topping for an open-faced toasted sourdough with summery tomatoes.
A creamy pasta salad or tortellini salad - sounds great.
Drizzle it over a roasted sweet potato.
Spread it on that BLT.
Sub it for mayo in your favorite Tomato Pie.
Thank you, Kathleen! I don’t have any tarragon in the pots outside my back door, but I do have oregano, parsley, and some dill. And I believe there’s some anchovy paste in the fridge, garlic, and lemon. Nothing like a good dipping sauce to transform summer meals, and nothing like a new perspective that helps us get out of cooking ruts, right?
I hope you all have a good week. This Thursday, for paid subscribers, I’ll share a persnickety recipe, well, actually, that’s a nice way to say it… It’s a PAIN of a recipe, but oh, so delicious. It’s my PEACH POUND CAKE! And this is peach pound cake baking season right now. I’m sharing the recipe Thursday in the hopes that you can all bake it and give me some feedback how it works with your juicy summer peaches. Regardless, it is one of the best pound cakes you will ever put in your mouth!
Until then, happy cooking and summer!
- xo, Anne
Can’t wait to try this!
The Green Goddess dressing is amazing. You're right. It's a miracle. And I love your stories. Thank you.