Growing up, I was a picky eater who knew a few things to be true. Latkes could be enjoyed with sour cream or applesauce, but never both at the same time; bagels with lox were to be eaten open-faced, never as a closed sandwich; challah tasted best when torn by hand and stuffed into your mouth in great, greedy gulps; and, perhaps most importantly, real Jews didn’t eat mayonnaise.
Or, to be more specific: We could eat mayonnaise, but only in specific, pre-approved dishes like tuna salad and deviled eggs. (Neither of which is particularly Jewish — but hey, I never said the rules I invented for myself weren’t arbitrary.) Slathering the white stuff on a deli sandwich would be blasphemy; dipping fries in a gloppy pile of it was unimaginable; the very thought of traditional coleslaw made my toes curl in horror. My freshman year of college, I knew a nascent relationship was doomed the moment I stood behind the guy in the lunch line and heard him order ham and cheese with mayo on white.
Of course, over the years, I’ve learned to lighten up a bit. I still generally don’t eat sandwiches with mayo on them — although I’ve decided that aioli is perfectly acceptable. (What’s the difference between mayonnaise and aioli? I think the answer is “pretension.”) I won’t dip fries in mayo… unless I’m at a place like my favorite restaurant in Pittsburgh, a Belgian cafe that serves its frites with a sauce that raises mayonnaise to an art form. And I’ve completely reversed my stance on coleslaw, so long as it carries enough vinegary zing to cut through the mayo’s mild richness.
What I’m saying, I guess, is that I’m not a true Jew so much as I am a snob — one who was convinced that Nonnie’s green goddess dressing was going to be gross, mostly because its main ingredient is (you guessed it) a full cup of Hellman’s finest. But I made the recipe anyway, because I hadn’t yet cracked the cookbook’s dubious salad section and, more importantly, because I had half a container of sour cream left over from last week’s adventure in coffee cake.
And you know what? It’s good. Maybe not good enough to convince me to start trying mayo on my corned beef — but good enough that I’m at least a little less worried about the mayo-heavy recipes that await further in Nonnie’s busted green binder.
Green Goddess Dressing; main text Nonnie’s, italicized asides my own
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons minced chives or green onion [From my research into the history of green goddess, it seems chives are more traditional — but Key Food only had scallions, so in they went]
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
2 tablespoons anchovy paste
1/3 cup minced parsley
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup dairy sour cream [That’s how Nonnie wrote it, presumably to indicate that this recipe isn’t meant to be pareve; I shudder to think what non-dairy sour cream might look like]
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients and blend thoroughly. Cover and store in refrigerator. [Seriously, that’s it.]
The verdict: First of all — have you ever seen anything that looked more disgusting than anchovy paste, fresh from the tube? It’s a color Crayola might call “Infant Poop Brown,” with a consistency to match; not exactly mouth-watering stuff.
Secondly: Be careful when opening your brand-new canister of dry mustard, unless you want this to happen.
And finally, cutting to the chase: Nonnie’s green goddess is perfectly good. It’s a thick, herbaceous and slightly tangy condiment that reads more like a dip than a salad dressing; you’d need to thin it out considerably (maybe with buttermilk?) to construct something suitable for clinging to lettuce leaves. I liked it well enough as written; I liked it even more after I doctored it up with the last of our windowbox basil, the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme, and the juice from half a lemon.
As for serving suggestions: Nonnie doesn’t give any, but I’ve found that it plays well with crudite — and even better on the neglected Trader Joe’s salmon burgers you may find lurking in the back of your freezer.