Construct heavenly salads with homemade goddess dressing

Gretchen McKay
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Don’t you just feel like a good salad when the weather gets nice? When leaves start to appear on trees and our lawns suddenly look verdant, our dinner plates call out for a little green, too.

This salad is a great place to start. It doesn’t require lots of ingredients, but it’s full of flavor. The dressing is a vegan version of green goddess, named for its color. Chef Philip Roemer of San Francisco’s Palace Hotel is said to have created this classic mayo-based dressing in the 1920s to honor actor George Arliss, who starred in William Archer’s play “The Green Goddess.”

Like so many dishes, green goddess has gone in and out of style over the years, but this fresh, herbal version with creamy avocado, lemon, rice vinegar and three different soft and leafy herbs is a keeper.

The original recipe calls for using “Little Gem” romaine lettuce, but my grocery store was out. So I substituted a mix of torn romaine and butter lettuce. For herbs, think dill, tarragon and chives along with parsley, cilantro and mint. For some extra crunch, throw on a few seasoned croutons.

This dressing also can be served as a dip for raw veggies, as a base for coleslaw or as a jazzy sauce for potato or pasta salad.

Salad with green goddess dressing is heavenly.

Little Gem Salad  With GreenGoddess Dressing

PG tested

For dressing

  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1/3 cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup safflower or vegetable oil

For salad

  • 8 cups romaine or butter lettuce, torn, or mix of both
  • 2 ripe avocados, sliced
  • 5 radishes, sliced
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • Additional fresh herbs, for garnish
  • Seasoned croutons, for garnish

Make dressing: Add herbs, water, garlic and salt to a blender and blend until ingredients are pureed. Next, add avocado, lemon juice and vinegar and blitz again.

With the blender running, slowly pour in oils. Season with salt and pepper. (Dressing can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. It will keep for up to a week.)

Make salad: Rinse lettuce in cold water. Shake off excess and let dry cut side down on kitchen towels or paper towels. Wrap them up in the same towel, putting the two halves together, and chill in fridge until you are ready to serve, or up to 1 day.

Arrange lettuce on a platter and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with avocado, radishes, spring onions, fresh herbs and any flowering herbs from the garden. Add a handful of croutons for extra crunch, if desired.

Serves 6.

— Adapted from “Lush Life: Food & Drinks from the Garden” by Valerie Rice (Prospect Park Books, $35)