Green Goddess Dressing

The Palace Hotel in San Francisco

Actor George Arliss in the film version of The Green Goddess

When I was young, Green Goddess Dressing, sounded scary to me.  I didn't even want to try it.   For some reason and image of a swamp monster came up in my head when I heard the name.  Maybe I saw the picture of the actor George Arliss and that scared me.  All I know is that I didn't even want to try it and that is coming from a kid who was not picky at all and ate almost everything.

I still remember the first time I had it, at Roy Yamaguchi's restaurant in Atlanta.  But at the restaurant it was called a herb dressing and one of the other cooks told me when we were making it one day, "you know it's basically just like a Green Goddess dressing."  How could this delicious dressing be related to the green swamp version I had in my head.  Talk about replacing something negative with something positive.  I still often call it a Lemon Herb Dressing for those who may not picture the right thing.

There are probably a thousand different versions of Green Goddess Dressing as each person puts their spin on it.  At Roy's they made it with Rice Wine Vinegar.  The original version calls for Tarragon Vinegar.  The recipe I most frequently make uses a combo of lemon juice and red wine vinegar and I love it.  The original has you making your own mayonnaise with raw eggs, olive oil and lemon juice.  But for mine I start with prepared mayo as some people have issues with raw eggs.    Some versions add sour cream or avocado and you are welcome to experiment however you would like, but I'm just sharing my favorite version with you.

The history of Green Goddess Dressing is part of the history of California Cuisine.  It was first served at the Palace Hotel in San Franciso in 1923.  William Archer wrote a hit play called The Green Goddess and the actor George Arliss stayed at the Palace Hotel in between performing in the play.  Chef Philip Roemer created the dressing and served it as the starter over a salad.  (A side note is that The Palace Hotel is famous for being the origin of another well known recipe.  The actress Luisa Tetrazzini was a famous opera singer who stayed at The Palace Hotel and they invented Turkey Tetrazzini during her stay and named it after her.)

I love Green Goddess dressing as a dip in a crudité platter.  I love it over greens.  I love it over chicken for a herb and lemon chicken salad.  I also love it over crab or almost any fish.  In fact tonight we had it over sea bass and had it on our salad.  It's very versatile.

Also, sometimes I don't have all the herbs.  Tonight I just made it with fresh basil because I didn't have the tarragon.  I love it best with tarragon and chervil but sometimes you're just throwing a quick dinner together for your family and want to whip up a simple dressing and you may not have every fresh herb on hand.  You can even use parsley alone as a last resort.  It won't have the depth of flavor of tarragon or basil but it will still be delicious.  


(aka Lemon Herb Dressing)

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 clove garlic 

1 tablespoon anchovy paste, optional

1 cup mayo

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

small handful of Tarragon leaves

small handful of parsley leaves

small handful of basil leaves

small handful of chervil leaves (chervil is especially hard to find if you are not a chef who can order from restaurant suppliers.  I've never seen it in a grocery store so I just grow my own in my herb garden and order it from my food purveyors.  Just skip it if you can't find it!)

Throw everything in a blender and blend well.  It keeps for a week to ten days but in our house it is usually eaten within a couple of days.  

(and eventually I'll post a pic of my ingredients and my version of it.)


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