Green Goddess Dressing was created at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, an opulent 19th century hotel noted for its celebrity chefs. In those days, celebrity chefs were not Food Network Stars, but usually white-toqued men either from, or trained in, Europe. No one was yelling “Bam!” so much back then.
Chef Philip Roemer debuted the dressing in 1923 to honour actor George Arliss, who stayed at the hotel while performing in William Archer’s hit play “The Green Goddess.” It is believed to have been inspired by a dressing that hailed from the kitchens serving Louis XIII, served then not with salads but with eel. (If you have long wondered what dressing to serve with your Wednesday Night Eel, as I have, this info could be very helpful.)
The original recipe is reported to have contained mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, chives, anchovies, lemon juice and vinegar, but it has been tinkered with over the years by countless chefs and home cooks, including yours truly. A modernized version recently served at the hotel includes additional ingredients like spinach and chervil and capers, and a homemade mayo with raw egg yolks. The dressing may have different versions, but it’s always creamy and vibrant with herbs, piquant with a bit of acidity, and salty-savory from anchovies.
This is my most recent version, and I will surely continue to play with this dressing forever. You can use it as a salad dressing on any kind of lettuce or vegetable salad, or as a dip with crudites.
For a vegetarian version, substitute a tablespoon of rinsed capers for the anchovies.
GREEN GODDESS DRESSING AND DIP
Makes 1 3/4 cups (12 servings)
Start to finish: 10 minutes
2 canned or jarred anchovies, rinsed and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
4 scallions, trimmed and cut into pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste