Regional food specialties pique my interest as they are window into local lore. San Francisco has given birth to several, one of those being the creamy, herby dressing known as Green Goddess. In the 1920’s the chef at the historic Palace Hotel was inspired to create this signature dressing in honor of William Archer’s hit play The Green Goddess.
The lead of the play, an English actor and a legend of the silver screen, George Arliss, later starred and was nominated for an Academy award for his role as the Rajah in the film version of the play. He didn’t win for this role. He did win and was the first British actor ever to win an Academy Award for his role in the sound version of the play, Disraeli. He certainly commanded a presence didn’t he. No wonder the dressing was dedicated to him.
There are lots of versions of this dressing out there but the classic recipe typically includes, in one form or another: anchovies, mayonnaise, vinegar, green onion, garlic, parsley, tarragon and chives. Sometimes the anchovies are in the form of anchovy paste, and often the tarragon flavor comes is delivered in the form of tarragon vinegar.
It’s great with steamed artichokes, over fish or hard-boiled eggs. I’ve chosen Fanny Singer’s version. You may be more familiar with her as Alice Waters’ daughter.
Fanny’s Green Goddess Dressing
Food & Wine
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature (optional)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a small bowl, combine the shallot with the garlic, vinegar and lemon and lime juices. Let stand for 5 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, beat the yolk with a whisk. Gradually add half of the olive oil in a thin drizzle, whisking constantly. Add 1 tablespoon of liquid from the shallot mixture, then whisk in the remaining olive oil. Add the avocado and mash it in with a fork. Whisk in the remaining shallot mixture and the herbs and season with salt and pepper.