Gumbo and the Green Goddess, part 1

 

Green Goddess Salad is a nice counterpoint to gumbo.

Green Goddess Salad is a nice counterpoint to gumbo.

It started on Sunday afternoon, while I was perusing The New York Times, a ritual that takes up the better part of the day. Flipping through the magazine, I came across Amanda Hesser’s story about the Green Goddess Salad with a circa-1948 recipe for the iconic salad. Crisp romaine dressed in a briny, pungent mixture of anchovies, garlic, Worcestershire, and mayo is a classic recipe, and one I wanted to share with friends. So last night a bunch of us gathered in the kitchen of my friend and neighbor Aimee, who had asked another  another friend and neighbor, Jon, over to teach her how to make his gumbo. Jon has a made a study of this Cajun stew, and perfected his recipe. I’ll share his lesson in a follow-up blogs.

The evening was the ideal opportunity to try out the recipe. You need to make the dressing at least an hour before serving so the flavors have plenty of time to develop their signature punch, which makes this salad good for entertaining. I couldn’t help pondering how much the Green Goddess Salad has in common with another iconic California (albeit Baja California) salad: the Caesar Salad, which legend says was born in 1924 in Caesar Cardini’s eponymous Tijuana restaurant.

The classic Caesar dressing–as opposed to the bastardized version that haunts so many chain restaurant menus these days–uses raw egg yolks, olive oil, smashed garlic, Worcestershire, and anchovies, along with, white white vinegar or lemon juice, a dash of mustard, and Parmesan cheese. The Green Goddess dressing employs mayonnaise (which is an emulsion of raw egg yolks, oil, and acid), Worcestershire, garlic, anchovies, and white wine vinegar to create a briny bite and lovely creamy consistency very similar to Caesar dressing that coats the crisp Romaine lettuce beautifully. If you really want to make this salad sing, you’d use homemade mayo (whenever I’m moved to whisk up a batch of mayonnaise, I consult James Peterson’s recipe from Essentials of Cooking), but in this case, I just opened a jar of Hellmann’s. If you use jarred mayo, it’s important to use a good-quality one, since it’s such a key ingredient.

Up next: Gumbo and the Green Goddess, part 2: Do Roux