Green Goddess Chicken Salad

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to pop into favorite vintage shop after an appointment in Salt Lake City. Emilie Jayne is a tiny treasure trove, filled with fascinating things from every era gone by. I adore walking slowly through the shop. It’s a history lesson and a feast for the eyes at the same time, and I never leave empty-handed.

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On this particular visit, I brought home a collection of vintage matchbooks (I imagine the travels that someone took to gather them over the years), a cream-colored G.E. table fan (it works!), and a blue cosmetics travel case (that matches one I already have). But my most prized find of the day was a Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, circa 1956.

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The cookbook isn’t in fabulous shape. The spine is worn and frayed, probably from lots of use over the past 6 decades. But I wasn’t looking for a collectible in perfect condition; I wanted to use the cookbook in my own kitchen! I lost myself in its musty pages for a couple of hours, peeling through each recipe and marveling at the similarities and differences between culinary thought, then and now. Being published in the 50s, there was a strong sense of the duties of a housewife. There were multiple pages containing tips on how to make required chores more tolerable (“harbor pleasant thoughts”) and entertaining seem effortless.

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I was interested to note that the editors clearly believed in the value of fresh vegetables and the importance of healthy eating. I giggled at the little rhymes throughout the book. There were signs of food trends gone by, like multiple recipes for liver and proteins most Americans wouldn’t consider (brains or tongue, anyone?). I spotted most of the same utensils in my own kitchen as in the book, reminding me that some things don’t change from generation to generation (or come back into favor because they were smart from the beginning).

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As I flipped through the pages, a recipe caught my eye in the “salad” chapter: Green Goddess Salad Dressing. I noticed it because my mom had spotted some in the supermarket over Easter weekend and mentioned how much she’d loved the dressing as a kid. From what I’ve read, there are multiple versions of the classic, with the importance placed on plenty of fresh herbs. Betty Crocker’s recipe included things like sour cream and mayonnaise (that probably make it absolutely delicious), but I decided to give it a little makeover and substitute Greek yogurt for the mayo.

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The yogurt went right into a food processor with the sour cream, a couple of cloves of garlic, and LOTS of fresh herbs: basil, dill, chives, and mint. I also added some chopped onion and lemon juice, and seasoned it well with salt and pepper.

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I happened to have tarragon vinegar on hand, which the recipe called for, and remembered some parsley I had in the produce drawer. I also used an ingredient that I’d never cooked with but John loves: anchovies. I popped three of them right into the dressing and blended everything together well. I honestly had no idea what the dressing is supposed to taste like… but whatever I’d just made was fresh, creamy, and delicious!

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Instead of simply pouring the dressing over a salad, I decided to use it as the base for a chopped chicken salad. I chopped up a couple of poached chicken breasts. I pulled some celery, jalapeno, onion, and apple from the fridge and gave them a chop, too. And every chicken salad needs the crunch of some chopped nuts; I used pecans. I poured some of the beautiful Green Goddess dressing into the bowl and stirred it well, making sure everything was coated in the creamy goodness.

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I served the chicken salad on a bed of fresh spinach leaves (more green!) with toasted baguettes on the side. I used them as a utensil instead of my fork and I highly recommend it.

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The chicken salad was the perfect mix of textures: creamy dressing, crisp apples, crunchy celery and nuts. The star is obviously the Green Goddess herself, herby and fresh and surprisingly light. Even though I tweaked her original recipe, I’m pretty sure that Betty Crocker would approve. She knew in the 50s what I continue to learn every day: the secret ingredient for a happy life, a happy home, and any good recipe is LOVE.

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Light Green Goddess Dressing

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup light sour cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon each of chopped dill, mint, chives, and parsley
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped basil
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
  • 2-3 whole anchovies
  • ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend completely. Adjust seasoning to taste. Pour over a big green salad, or use as a base for an herby chicken salad sandwich.

Green Goddess Chicken Salad

You’ll need:

  • 2-3 cups of chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • ½ green apple, seeded and chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • ½ jalapeno, chopped
  • ½ pecans, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Green Goddess dressing to taste

Combine the first seven ingredients in a bowl. Pour in ½ cup of Green Goddess dressing and stir well to combine. Add more dressing to taste. Serve on a bed of fresh spinach leaves with toasted baguettes and crisp white wine on the side. Cheers to Betty Crocker, learning from our past, and classic recipes that never go out of style. YUM.

Hungry for more? Check out the collection of recipes on the FOOD BLISS page

The New 52: A recipe for each week in 2015

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