The end of summer is usually met with melancholy as the anticipation of the long winter brings the closing of the pool, bedding down the garden and farewell to those summer blooms that delight us so. This describes me most every year but I have decided to change my outlook. Instead I celebrate the season’s end by taking a vacation in the Wisconsin north woods for that last bit of glorious sun reflecting off the lake. Just the three of us, Michael, Frodo (our dog) and I, load up the boat and fishing gear (usually Frodo is pacing because he knows something is up and he hopes it includes him) and make sure we have plenty of books, canine treats and of course the camera. We usually go rustic, just a step up from camping, to a minimalist cabin that offers little more than shelter, running water and inside “facilities.” This year we upgraded to a place that offered Wi Fi. It felt luxurious. It is relaxing spending the days doing whatever comes to mind and weather permits. We look forward to this getaway reflecting on the seasons activities and returning home refreshed and ready for what’s ahead.
Before departing, I took inventory of the offerings taking their last breaths of warm air. Left in my garden were green beans, tomatoes and a wide variety of herbs. I needed to pick some to accompany us on our trip. In addition we got word that a former student of Michael’s would be passing through on her way home to Boston and would like to stop by for a visit with her daughter. Being a stereotypic Italian, I needed snack ideas so they would be sure to continue their journey with full bellies. I know she has a wheat allergy so crostini was out and another direction was called for. That is when I remembered the herbaceous “Green Goddess” recipe that would utilize the abundance of herbs and pair so well with the other garden offerings of beans and tomatoes. I added miscellaneous vegetables lurking in my larder and there it was, a perfect celebration of Summer’s end. It was a plethora of color. Displayed on my grandmother’s favorite fiesta ware platter it made for a lovely visual surrounding the bowl of herb infused dip. Fresh, seasonal, healthy, delicious with a bit of eye candy, it had all the components of a perfect snack.
Here is how it goes down.
GREEN GODDESS DRESSING Makes 1 ½ c
Recipe by Kelsey Nixon adapted by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
1/3 c sour cream
2T fresh lemon juice
2t Worcestershire sauce
1 t Dijon mustard
1 c packed basil leaves
¼ c fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
4T chopped chives
2T fresh chopped tarragon
1 clove garlic, pressed
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Crudité, such as blanched radish, cauliflower, broccoli, and sugar snap peas or whatever you like or have on hand, for serving.
Jeanne’s note: Certain vegetables such as broccoli, snow peas and beans lend themselves well to blanching prior to serving. A minute or so in boiling salted water and then transferred to an ice bathe sets the bright color and softens them a bit for a better mouth feel. I also like to serve this with roasted veggies such as Brussels sprouts.
- Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, basil, parsley, chives and tarragon and garlic into a food processor. Process until smooth and scraping down the sides as necessary.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with crudité or as a dressing for green salad.
Kelsey’s note: The dressing will thicken up as it chills. This is a great way to use up extra herbs, switch out whatever you have on hand.
The dressing was created in the 1920’s by the chef at San Francisco’s Palace Hotel in honor of actor George Arliss, who was appearing locally in a play called, “Green Goddess.” This recipe is so versatile. As mentioned you can change it up by adding whatever herbs you have, use as a dip, sauce for fish or shellfish, in place of mayonnaise in deviled eggs or as a salad dressing. It is an old classic that has made a comeback. To lighten it up try substituting Greek yogurt for the mayo.
Returning from my sojourn I will be greeted by the anticipation of the Fall harvest which is another celebration of the season’s end. It is like the storm before the calm with the abundance of the earth spewing forth its fruits. This is a favorite time to visit the local farmer’s markets as the vivid colors of the produce excite the eye and creative juices gear up for serious cooking following the lighter fare of Summer. Rich stocks, long braises and flavor laden soups all waiting for the inspired chef to create. I can’t wait!
Moving toward Winter I hope to stay focused on all the dishes to be made and aromas wafting our home instead of the freezing bitter cold and snow. We will see if I can maintain my optimism. In a few months you may want to ask me, “How’s that working for you?”
For now, let’s all pledge to savor the seasons and keep spreading the love, one dish at a time. Sending thoughts of love and good dishes from my kitchen to yours. Jeanne