Green is the color of spring. On my morning walk of Crockett Cove I watch the winter greys and browns recede as bright shades of spring green burst forth; prickly green mounds of moss, chartreuse green tips of new spruce, bright green spears of chives, velvety green leaves of mint, and soft green fronds of ferns.
Our eating patterns start to shift as the season changes. The metabolism quickens, and our bodies crave the crunch of more green vegetables, while our palates are eager for a lift after a season of roots.
A finger-licking good recipe that takes full advantage of this luxury of spring green and fresh herbs is the classic Green Goddess Dressing.
Food historians credit the origin of this dressing to the 1920’s chef of the San Francisco Palace Hotel. George Arliss, the first British actor to receive an Academy Award, was appearing locally in a play called “Green Goddess.” The dressing, created in his honor, is bright green (as is the huge green idol in the play), creamy, rich and tangy…addictive really.
Variations of the recipe abound, with the main ingredients being mayonnaise, anchovies, parsley, tarragon and other fresh herbs. Green Goddess is a thick dressing, better tossed with a sturdy green or used as a dip for fresh veggies. Fresh and delightful on grilled fish, it can also be tossed with pasta, used as a marinade for chicken, and spread in a pocket for a veggie sandwich.
Preparing Green Goddess Dressing is a snap in a food processor or blender. This recipe, adapted from one by Jessica Battilana (another San Francisco based chef) in her book “Repertoire”, uses jarred mayonnaise, yogurt, and lots of fresh herbs: parsley, basil, tarragon, and chives.
Because it’s too early to be snipping the basil is the greenhouse, I substituted a fresh Basil Ricotta crafted by Crooked Face Creamery of Norridgewalk for the one-third cup yogurt and one-half cup basil leaves. I’ve also added dill weed to the chopped herb mix; fresh thyme, mint leaves, even rosemary sprigs enliven this savory dip.
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. Enjoy the flavorsome health benefits of going spring green.
GREEN GODDESS DRESSING
- 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Crooked Face Creamery basil ricotta (or 1/3 cup plain full-fat yogurt & 1/2 cup basil leaves)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 2 oil-packed anchovy filets
- 1/2 cup parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon or dill weed
- 3 tablespoons 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 ricotta, 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 or as a dressing for salad.