(Some grilling ideas for your review for the long, holiday weekend)
Wandering through the Kerrytown Farmers Market, I happened upon a produce table that I enjoy patronizing : Green Things Farm, their produce cultivated on an organic Nixon Road farm in Ann Arbor Charter Township. I love the name, as full of whimsy as a child’s story book, and purchased a bunch of curly-leafed lettuce, thinking of the frilly lime-green petticoats a garden nymph might wear in the book I was imagining.
Green Things Farm is in its third year of production, the core of the farm being Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which according to their website “… is a model of food distribution, which builds a relationship with your farmer. Members agree to buy a share of the farm at the beginning of each season in return for their portion of the harvest each week.”
I wondered how to highlight the lettuce in a recipe, thinking of the potluck birthday party I was planning to attend. Lettuce cups, heavy with the bite of protein-rich shrimp dressed in a Green Goddess salad dressing, popped into my head. Surrounded by so many “green things” while caught in a fanciful mind-set, it sounded like the perfect answer for a late summer evening nosh.
Green Goddess salad dressing is reminiscent of that fine-dining era of meals served by tuxedo-clad waiters to the background swells of Benny Goodman. Your dinner might begin with a wedge of Iceberg liberally doused with Green Goddess, followed by a baked potato (butter and sour cream non-negotiable), filet mignon (rare), and a Gibson (straight-up and dry).
The Green Goddess dressing would have typically been made with chives, anchovy and lemon juice — lusciously heavy on the sour cream and mayonnaise. I’m a people-pleaser, and when cooking for friends, my experience has been that full-fat whatever will always be gobbled up well in advance of, for example, a vegetable platter. In a Green Goddess dressing whole fat (preferably homemade) mayonnaise and sour cream tastes better to most, than would a substitution of fat-free yogurt. But I’m always on the lookout for ways to increase nutritional components, and decrease saturated sugars and fats, without sacrificing flavor.
I decided to take a different approach to this classic. Desiring the herbaceous, rich, full flavors of Green Goddess dressing with a less dense, more nutrient-rich composition, I thickened the dressing with avocado — a nutritionist’s darling — eliminated the sour cream, and reduced the mayonnaise. The avocado enhanced the lime color of the dressing without sacrificing the richness of flavor, and silkiness of texture.
If you’re scanning the recipe and stop, nose wiggling, at the thought of those hairy wiggly critters you see on pizza, I beg you to reconsider. Anchovies are a flavor-packed, briny component in the dressing, and I’ll bet you wouldn’t even know they were in the ingredients if you didn’t read it below. If you like Worcestershire sauce, you like anchovies, which are one of the main ingredients in the condiment. Anchovy lends complexity and depth to world cuisine, and in the recipe below, as well.
The salad also finds a comfortable home served in a partially scooped-out tomato, or in a pitted avocado half, shell intact.