Hot food: Green Goddess dressing

Jill Dupleix
Sharp flavour: Chef Neil Perry calls Green Goddess dressing a 'forgotten classic'.
Sharp flavour: Chef Neil Perry calls Green Goddess dressing a 'forgotten classic'. Photo: Edwina Pickles

What is it?

A creamy, green herb sauce created in 1923 by the Palace Hotel in San Francisco to honour the actor George Arliss who was starring in the play of the moment, The Green Goddess. It has come and gone from fine-dining menus for decades, returning recently to bring colour and life to salads, vegetables and meats. The heavy mayonnaise and sour cream of the original often gets lightened these days with yoghurt or fresh avocado.

Where is it?

Dave Verheul of The Town Mouse in Carlton serves a limpid, smooth pool of Green Goddess with salty, flash-fried little green friggitello peppers, ready to pick up in the fingers and dip and swipe. "We make it with tarragon, chives, parsley, spinach and a touch of green chilli," he says. "It's such a light, fresh, creamy sauce."

Chef Neil Perry calls it a "forgotten classic", and serves it under a caesar-like salad of cos leaves and anchovies. He's had it on the Rockpool Bar & Grill menu in both Melbourne and Sydney since day one. "I love the sharp flavour the creme fraiche gives and the fact that the herbs give it a wonderful green hue. The tarragon is very important for the anise flavour it gives."

The Goddess also appears in Sydney at Paling's Kitchen & Bar in George Street, in an inspired pairing with salt-baked ocean trout and finger potatoes.

Why do I care?

Because it's a truly lovely and versatile sauce that's easy to make, lasts for days and is good with eggs, beans, smoked salmon, roast meats and barbecued fish.

Can I do it at home?

Too easy. The classic recipe uses tarragon, parsley and chives, but basil or mint give it a lift, and rocket or nasturtium leaves add peppery notes.

Sourcing

NSW

Paling's Kitchen & Bar, Level 1, Ivy, 330 George Street, Sydney, 9240 3000, merivale.com.au/palings; Rockpool Bar & Grill, 66 Hunter Street, Sydney, 8078 1900, rockpool.com

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VIC

The Town Mouse, 312 Drummond Street, Carlton, 03 9347 3312, thetownmouse.com.au; Rockpool Bar & Grill, Crown Casino, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank, 03 8648 1900, www.rockpool.com/melbourne/

Heirloom tomatoes with green goddess

The sauce will last for three days in the fridge, but is best fresh.

800g mixed heirloom and truss tomatoes

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt

cracked pepper

DRESSING

2 anchovy fillets, chopped

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

½ cup basil leaves

½ cup parsley leaves

2 tbsp tarragon leaves

2 tbsp chopped chives or spring onion greens

100g sour cream or creme fraiche

60g low-fat yoghurt or whole egg mayonnaise

½ tsp sea salt

1 to 2 tbsp lemon juice

1. Slice each tomato differently - some slices, some chunks, some quarters - to get a variety of textures and shapes. Toss in olive oil, sea salt and pepper and set aside.

2. To make the dressing, whizz all the ingredients except lemon juice in a blender until smooth, green and creamy, scraping down the sides once or twice. Add the lemon juice to taste, whizzing again, and refrigerate before using.

3. Strew the tomatoes on each plate, scatter with a few extra herbs and serve with a goodly spoonful of green goddess.

Serves 4