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Green Goddess Dressing

Green Goddess Dressing is a creamy herbed salad dressing.

The main ingredients are anchovy, garlic, mayonnaise and vinegar, along with parsley, tarragon and chives for colour, and other seasonings.
  • some versions will combine the tarragon and vinegar by calling for tarragon vinegar;
  • some versions will swap in green onion for the chives;
  • some versions call for a few drops of green food colouring to heighten the dramatic effect of the greenness;
  • some versions play with the mayonnaise by either adding in sour cream and / or yoghurt, or swapping the mayonnaise out and one or both of the aforementioned in instead;
  • some versions add about 6 oz (180g) of fresh spinach leaves.

Commercial bottled brands used to be made in North America by Wishbone, Seven Seas and Kraft. It appears that just the Seven Seas and Kraft versions are now (2007) available. Commercial brands have green food colouring added.

The dressing can also be used as an accompaniment to artichokes.

To assemble the actual, "authentic" salad made with the dressing, you spread iceberg and other leafy salad greens on a plate. In the centre, place a cooked artichoke bottom filled with cooked shrimp. Dress with the dressing, then garnish with cherry tomatoes.

History Notes

The food writer Marlene Parrish asserts that the 1920s original dressing contained both spinach and chervil (sic), but she doesn't state the source for this. [1]

The first cookbook appearance of the recipe that CooksInfo.com is currently aware of was in 1949.

1 small can anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons onion juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 cups mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
Salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste

Mash together the anchovies, garlic and onion juice. Combine with parsley, mayonnaise, chives, vinegar and seasonings. Taste to be sure enough salt has been added. Chill for an hour or so before using.

Combine equal amounts of cut romaine, endive and lettuce shreds. Add enough Green Goddess Dressing to moisten the greens. If desired, shrimp or crabmeat may be added to the greens."

-- Lee, Martha. 100 Years of California Cooking. Oakland, California: Tribune Press. 1949. Page 49. [Supplied to PE courtesy of Sarah Sammis of Hayward, California.]

The earliest newspaper mention of the dressing might be in a 1950 review of the above cookbook:

"Have you ever seen a green goddess dressing? It isn't so much of a strip tease in reverse as you might think. Instead of being what it sounds like, it's a harmless cook book recipe with no suggestion of sex in its makeup. First you take a small can of anchovy fillets, then—oh, read it for yourself! It's on Page 49 of "100 Years of California Cooking" a book of recipes compiled and tested for readers of The Tribune by Martha Lee, Tribune Home Economics editor." [2]

One of the first times for the actual recipe to appear in a newspaper may have been in Iowa in 1951:

"In the recipe exchange at the Home Economics division of F.W.C. last week, Mrs. Benton Stahl gave a recipe for an anchovy dressing, which transforms a wedge of lettuce into something really special.

To 1 cup mayonnaise add:
3 tablespoons chopped anchovies
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1 close garlic grated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons Tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt—freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream

Beat well with rotary beater or 20 seconds in an electric blender." [3]

In her 23 December 1951 column in this week magazine, Clementine Paddleford (American food writer, 1898 - 1967) presented what she claimed was the original recipe:

"You have heard, of course, of the Green Goddess Dressing? This originated at the Palace but today there are as many versions of the Goddess as ways to make apple pie. Here's the original recipe:

4 minced anchovy fillets
2 tbsp minced onion
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped tarragon
4 tsp thinly sliced chives
1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

Combine anchovy, onion, parsley, tarragon, chives and tarragon vinegar in a medium bowl. Add mayonnaise; gently whisk together until combined. Season with salt to taste. Serve over greens tossed together in a salad bowl rubbed with a clove of garlic. Yield: 1 3/4 cups" [4]

The recipe appears again in a newspaper in early 1952. The writer takes special care to note that this was a salad men would eat, too:

"The recipe for Jan. 11 which I promised you last week is one of those perfect, delectable combinations of ingredients that is bound to produce raves. . It is one you can put in that cook book you are making for your teen-aged daughter, as is Barbara Thompson, or you might pass it on to your future daughter-inlaw. This tip is for Gladys Smith whose son, Chuck's, engagement was announced at the New Year's party at the Radio Club. The future bride is attractive Nancy Taylor of Detroit, whom Chuck met at the University of Michigan where both are students. . . .I can praise this recipe to the skies because it is from the cooking column of Clementine Paddleford of the [Daily] News, who ferreted out an imposing stack of rare recipes on a countrywide tour. This recipe originated in the kitchens of a famous hostelry the Palace Hotel of San Francisco. It was a hit with my guests, the men folks being just as enthusiastic as the women.

4 anchovy fillets, cut fine
1 teaspn. chopped parsley
2 teasp. chopped chives
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablsp. chopped onion
1 teasp. chopped tarragon
1 teasp. tarragon vinegar
Combine anchovy, onion, chives, parsley, tarragon and tarragon vinegar. Add mayonnaise. Mix gently until blended. Serve over romaine, escarole and chicory, and add endive if you wish, tossed lightly in wooden bowl. Yield, 1 3/4 cups dressing." [5]

The Charleroi Mail of Charleroi, Pennsylvania suggested the salad on 10 March 1952 (page 2) for part of a St Patrick's Day menu: "From San Francisco comes this naturally green mayonnaise", and then gives a Green Goddess recipe calling for both mayonnaise and whipped sour cream, and either chives or green onions, as well as lemon juice. The suggested lettuce is iceberg.

At the Booth Memorial Hospital Open House and Bazaar held 29 October 1952 in Oakland, California, one table at the bazaar featured bottles of Green Goddess salad dressing made by the women from the Hilltop branch of the Women's Auxiliary. (The Hilltop ladies also sold "growing plants" and "mystery packages"). (Found in The Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. 12 October 1952, page S-8).

In 1953, the Oakland Tribune suggests Green Goddess Salad for Memorial Day: "What could be better than Green Goddess Salad for your Memorial Day Dinner. This Green Salad with its wonderful garlicky dressing is an old favourite with Bay area food fanciers." (The Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. 28 May 1953, page 19.) The recipe calls for chives or green onions, lemon juice, tarragon wine vinegar, 1 cup mayonnaise and 1/2 cup sour cream. It suggests using the dressing on mixed salad greens.

A 1954 abberation appearing in the Syracuse Herald Journal (Syracuse, New York. 30 May 1954, page 13) adds mustard and Worcestershire sauce. It also drops the chives or green onions, and calls for just bog-standard onion in their place, minced. (It retained the anchovy, mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley and garlic.)

[1] Parrish. Marlene. "Classic salads share California pedigree." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 1 August 2002.

[2] "This is the Story of Your Town" column by Jack Burroughs. The Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. 5 January 1950, page 33.

[3] Ames Daily Tribune. Ames, Iowa. 2 March 1951, Page 7.

[4] Paddleford, Clementine. This Week Magazine. 23 December 1951. As quoted in Alexander, Kelly and Cynthia Harris. "Hometown Appetites." New York: Gotham Books. 2008. Page 170.

[5] Mueller, Irma. "Item-wised" column. Palatine Enterprise of Palatine, Illinois. Friday, 11 January 1952, page 4.

Literature & Lore

Green Goddess Dressing is reputedly named after the play called "The Green Goddess" [6], written in 1920 by William Archer (Scottish writer, 1856 - 1924).

Robert Burns Mantle (1873 - 1948), a New York drama critic, selected the play for inclusion in his Best Plays series of 1920 - 1921. It was brought to the screen first as a silent movie in 1923, then with sound in 1930.

In the play, three people are in a plane that has crashed in the fictional kingdom of Rukh in mountains near India. They are taken prisoner by the Rajah of that Kingdom, who was played in all versions by George Arliss (1868 - 1946) from England. He was nominated for an Oscar in the 1930 film version of it.

Philip Roemer

Philip Roemer

In the first half of 1923, Arliss toured with the play in several parts of America, including San Francisco (possibly March in San Francisco [7] -- in May, he was back in New York speaking at an actor's Equity meeting. From September 1923 till the end of 1924 Arliss was in London doing a run of it at the St James's.) While in San Francisco, he stayed at The Palace Hotel (still extant as of 2007.) The hotel's chef at the time, Philip Roemer (also seen spelt Reomer and even Bromer [8]), decided to name a salad dressing after the movie / play that Arliss was starring in.

More precise information about exactly when Reomer could have named the dressing might perhaps be obtained from one of Arliss's autobiographies:
  • Up the Years from Bloomsbury.Boston, Mass. : Little, Brown. 1927
  • On the stage : an autobiography. London : J. Murray. 1928
  • My Ten Years in the Studios Boston : Little, Brown, 1940.

[6] Not the same as Tarzan and The Green Goddess 1938.

[7] "Morris Ankrum of Berkeley, who achieved some fame in amateur theatricals in and about the University of California, is a member of George Arliss' "Green Goddess" company and stands a chance of going to England with the star. Ankrum is doing two small parts in the piece." -- From Curtain Calls Column. In The Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. 13 March 1923, page 10.

[8] In Betty Crocker's "101 Delicious Bisquick Creations" (1933, 32 pp.), Roemer puts forward a Chicken Pie recipe made with Bisquick. There is a photo of him, and his name is spelled "Philip Roemer."

Salad Dressings

Aemono; Boiled Dressing; Caesar Salad; Green Goddess Dressing; Mayonnaise; Miracle Whip; Ranch Dressing; Russian Dressing; Salad Cream; Salad Dressings; Thousand Island Dressing

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Oulton, Randal. "Green Goddess Dressing." CooksInfo.com. Published 28 February 2005; revised 27 May 2009. Web. Accessed 04/20/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/green-goddess-dressing>.

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