The Green Goddess

Green goddess dressing.

I’ve known about green goddess dressing for a while now, but I have to admit that up until recently, its ingredients were somewhat of a mystery to me. Herbs, of course, and something creamy, for sure. But was that greek yogurt, or was it buttermilk? Avocado, or just green herbs? A hint of anchovy, or am I just making things up?

I don’t know about you, but when I hear “green goddess” notions of healthy grain bowls, sunny weather and glowing skin come to mind. New Californian cooking. As far as I’m concerned, it sounds like quintessential health food branding. Right?

While many recipes proved my theory correct, featuring fresh, healthful ingredients like herbs, avocado, greek yogurt and lemon, I was surprised to learn that a wholesome green goddess recipe is something of a reformed party girl.

The green goddess got its start in 1920s New York, when a broadway show of the same name premiered and gained popularity. Following its rise, a chef at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco invented a green dressing in its honor.

A green goddess with cilantro, greek yogurt, avocado and lime.

And the original recipe had absolutely nothing to do with health. Think mayonnaise, sour cream, anchovies, tarragon and chives. Delicious? Definitely. Wholesome? Not so much.

That said, this recipe – now nearly a century old – is far from obsolete. Many contemporary green goddesses have decadent, old-school vibes, requesting a heavy hand with rich dairy and classic French herbs.

Personally, I prefer a green goddess with greek yogurt and lots of citrus. To me, these versions are cleaner and brighter.

But that’s what’s great about the green goddess. She’s a chameleon. You can really make this dressing your own. Craving something avocado-forward? Go for it. Need to finish that buttermilk before it goes bad? Use it. Want to make anchovies your star? Sounds great. Forgot them at the grocery store? It will still be delicious!

I suggest preparing a batch of green goddess on Sunday evening to get you through the start of your work week. It’s versatile, so making it doesn’t require committing to one specific dinner idea. You can dress your salads with it, marinate your proteins in it, use it to amp up your grain bowls, or even let it guest star on taco night.

Below, you’ll find a few renditions I know and like. If you’re going to marinate a protein, I suggest following this recipe by Melissa Clark. Otherwise, simply use the ideas below to spark your creativity. After all, that’s what the green goddess is all about.

Green Goddess I

Combine parsley, basil, greek yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

Green Goddess II

Combine parsley, mint, basil, cilantro, sour cream, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

Adapted ever so slightly from Mina Stone’s recipe in Cooking For Artists (p 33).

Green Goddess III

Combine tarragon, chives, greek yogurt, anchovies*, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth.

*I suggest using 1-2 anchovies. If using, be sure to season less aggressively; anchovies add a lot of salt!

Green Goddess IV

Combine cilantro, avocado, greek yogurt, garlic, lime juice and zest, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Build-Your-Own Taco Fiesta

Despite the fact that we spend the majority of our days cooking for others, Laura, Kristina, Rian and I typically head straight into our own kitchens the moment we walk through our front doors at the end of the day. Nourishing ourselves is the ultimate form of self-care, and nourishing our friends is how we show our love. So, when Kristina’s 25th birthday rolled around last month, we knew a dinner party in her honor was in order.

While I’m sure the idea of a “dinner party” conjures up images of carefully set dining tables and anxieties of perfectly timed meals, that’s not usually how we entertain at home. On our own time, we aim to maximize our guests’ enjoyment while minimizing the amount of work it takes to create a wow-factor. Nine times out of ten, the path to this is a BYO (i.e. build-your-own) meal.

When in comes to BYO, tacos are the gold standard. A spread of charred corn tortillas, spiced meat, fish or poultry, stewed beans, a roasted veg or two, and an array of raw toppings like fresh herbs, sliced avocado and shredded cheese never, and I mean never, disappoints. Tacos satisfy meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, picky eaters, gluten-abstainers, kids, adults, those who aren’t that hungry, those who are starved…you get the idea.

And for hosts, they’re a dream. You can begin your prep a day or two in advance by fitting small tasks into your schedule like shaving radishes and picking herbs while your morning coffee is brewing. If your smart about it, by the time the party rolls around, you only have a few finishing touches before you pour yourself a drink.

There are endless variations on tacos, from seasonal veggies to wholesome proteins. Staples are charred corn tortillas, an abundance of herbs (especially mint, cilantro and scallions), toasted pepitas, lime wedges, and a sprinkle of chili powder, cumin and/or granulated garlic on whatever’s going in the oven if you’re keeping the theme tex-mex.

A few of our go-to toppings:

  • Non-vegetarian proteins
    • Braised chicken thighs with chili-garlic-cumin broth (try this recipe)
    • Pork carnitas with chili powder and cumin (see below)
    • Mild white fish like cod, mahi mahi or halibut roasted or pan fried with chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika and granulated garlic (try this recipe)
    • Pulled store-bought rotisserie chicken (easy!)
    • Seared and thinly sliced skirt steak marinated with lime/orange juice, fresh garlic, and olive oil if there’s time
    • Pan-fried shrimp finished with lime and lemon zest and juice, fresh cilantro and minced jalapenos (try this recipe)
  • Legumes (vegan proteins)
    • Black beans
    • Pinto beans
    • Lentils
  • Vegetables
    • Sliced cherry tomatoes or salsa fresca (try this recipe)
    • Thinly sliced radish
    • Thinly sliced cucumber
    • Avocado (or guac)
    • Roasted sweet potatoes
    • Roasted or grilled eggplant
    • Roasted or grilled zucchini
    • Roasted or grilled poblanos or other peppers
    • Roasted cauliflower
    • Roasted broccoli
    • Roasted brussels sprouts
    • Roasted winter squash
    • Roasted red onion
    • Roasted or grilled asparagus
  • Dairy/cheeses
    • Whole or 2% Greek yogurt
    • Crumbled feta
    • Crumbled cojita or queso fresca
    • Shredded cheddar or monterey jack
    • Crumbled goat cheese

For Kristina’s BYO taco party, we catered the fixings to the guest of honor. We prepared some of her favorite seasonal ingredients: sweet potatoes, cauliflower and red onion roasted with cumin and chili powder, homemade salsa fresca, avocado, tortilla chips, whole milk Greek yogurt, and Boston lettuce shells to please our carb-averse friends. For the meat lovers in the room, we got a hunk of pork butt for juicy pork carnitas to pair with seared pineapple.

Here are the steps we took to create this tasty centerpiece to Kristina’s 25th birthday dinner party:

Note those slippers:)

Cut the meat in about 2’ chunks (not precisely, it’s being pulled later).

Season with a good amount of salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cumin seeds and minced garlic to coat each piece.

In batches, brown the meat on each side in a large pot coated with oil of choice.

Add all the meat back to the pot along with roughly chopped white onion.

Put it in the oven for at least 3 hours at 325 degrees until the pork falls apart.

And Voilà! Serve it right out of the oven just as your friends are arriving. They’ll be so impressed by the overwhelmingly delicious aroma and the presentation straight from the pot!

HBD KRISTINA!! We Love you!! xo Charlotte