I love a good story, and with a name like “Green Goddess” you know there’s a bit of a tale lingering around. An almost kitschy throwback to the 1920s and 30s, the dressing is a zesty combination of fresh herbs, anchovies and sour cream, enlivened by a little bit of lemon juice. The name supposedly originates from the Palace Hotel in San Francisco where the dressing was made as a tribute to the hit play, “The Green Goddess,” and alas, a star was born.
My guess is that the popularity of this gem died down with the waning of favor over anchovies – a pity, really, in that the flavor profile of anchovies themselves are addictive. If people can down caesar dressing by the gallon, what’s the deal with hating on anchovies? It’s plain malarkey.
The recipe for this dressing is a riff off a version from Food and Wine Magazine used to dress a chicken salad. My husband took a look at the picture and said, “This would be great without all of that other mess around it.” “So you mean just the dressing?” “Yeah, pretty much.” After a few tweaks to the recipe and a bed of greens, we were cooking with gas.
So where does a nostalgic dressing trip down memory lane take us. To a salad with just as much historical presence. 1930 at the Hollywood Brown Derby heralded the chefery of Robert Cobb and Chuck Wilson – apparently the owner Cobb wandered around the kitchen looking for something awesome to eat and threw together a crazy amalgamation of greens, bacon, eggs, avocado and blue cheese. I can appreciate a late-night scrounge for munchies, if I do say so myself.
In plating this salad, I love a careful presentation of each ingredient segmented into its own section. Something about the vibrant colors in their own spots just waiting to be mixed together with the lovely dressing is an impressor and a half. As you know, it’s all about the presentation…says the designer.
California Cobb Salad with Green Goddess Dressing
1/2 c. of parsley leaves, loosely packed
1/2 c. of basil leaves
1/4 c. of chopped dill
4 sprigs of tarragon, leaves removed and chopped
1 sprig of oregano, leaves removed and chopped
1 c. of mayonnaise
zest of 1 lemon
juice of half a lemon
1/4 c. of chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste
mixed greens (baby romaine is fun)
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 perfectly hard-boiled eggs, diced
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 avocado, diced
1/2 c. of crumbled blue cheese
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, halved lengthwise into two cutlets
1 tbs. of olive oil
1 tbs. of herbes des provence
Begin by making the dressing – add all of the herbs except for the chives to the food processor, along with the garlic, lemon zest and juice. Blitz until finely chopped and then add the mayo. Blitz again to blend and then remove to a bowl. Stir in the chives and then season with salt and pepper. Chill.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet. While that warms, season the chicken with the herbes des provence and salt and pepper. Sear the chicken until it is cooked through and browned on both sides. Remove from pan and let cool slightly. Cube chicken and set aside.
Grab a large platter and make a bed of greens. Arrange the tomatoes, chopped eggs, chopped bacon, avocado, blue cheese and chicken in a pretty splay. Right before serving, toss the salad and top with the Green Goddess dressing. Tuck in and get down.