Killer Dinner Salad
About a week ago, My Beloved took me to a new-to-us restaurant in touristy Sausalito that I had heard good things about. Our expectations were high, as we had driven past a number of times and observed that, even from the street, the atmosphere was most welcoming. We finally decided to see what the buzz was about.
Poggio is charming, from the helpful wait staff to the beautiful decor, the first impression is of a lovely, leisurely place. There are little sidewalk tables that beckoned, but since it was a chilly evening, we opted to sit indoors. The food was as good as the rumors had hinted - My Beloved had ravioli stuffed with chicken livers that was out-of-this-world good, as was my cod with tiny spring vegetables but, to my mind, the absolute standout was the butter lettuce salad with rock shrimp, cara cara orange sections, and green goddess dressing.
I had never tasted green goddess dressing before, and that's partly why I ordered the salad. I vaguely remembered that it was invented in San Francisco, so it seemed fitting, too. It was so amazingly good, and complemented the shrimp and citrus so well, that I decided on the spot that I wanted to learn how to make that dressing.
Some online research showed that it's really not all that complicated, but also that it's pretty rich. I finally settled on a recipe that compromised between the full-fat and the low-fat concoctions. I made a similar salad last evening for dinner - My Beloved and I agreed that it was plenty for dinner all by itself - and it was just as good as I remembered. I think the chef at Poggio must have taken the extra step the strain out the dark green flecks of parsley for a more refined appearance but, over all, it was the same dressing. Next time, I will add even more lemon juice to make more of that distinctive tang, but I was quite pleased with my first attempt.
We didn't have rock shrimp, so I used salad shrimp, and they were fine. As we ate, we speculated about what other shellfish combinations would work well in this dish. Dungeness crab would make it even more special, although crab's season is winter and we don't think salads are fuel enough for a winter meal; we did think it would make a great starter salad in winter, if a smaller portion were offered, say at a special dinner party. We rolled our eyes in delight at the idea of adding lobster meat instead of the shrimp - true luxury!
If you're in the neighborhood, get thee to Poggio but, if you can't, try the green goddess dressing on your shrimp salad. I promise you it is swoon-worthy.
Buttermilk Green Goddess Dressing, from epicurious.com
1/2 cup mayonaise (I used the stuff in the jar with the blue lid)
1/3 cup buttermilk (I used Greek yogurt instead)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 anchovy fillets packed in oil (drained, chopped)
1 chopped garlic clove until smooth
freshly ground black pepper
In a processor, purée all ingredients except salt and pepper. Season to taste. Can be made 2 hours ahead; cover and chill. Makes about 1 cup.