July 20, 2011

A lot of people I know claim there's not much to like about anchovies. They’re wrong, but that’s their opinion (misguided as it may be). Of course, most folks base their anchovy perceptions on the shriveled, grey salt-bombs that can ruin an otherwise perfectly acceptable pizza. But I’m not here to advocate for the robust simplicity of a grilled, fresh anchovy or even the zestful nuance of the vinegar-cured Spanish boquerone (white anchovy). *

Nope, this month is all about healthy fats, and fresh or cured, anchovies are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. And while an aversion to anchovies themselves is perhaps a defensible position for many, it is not a position which is as easily upheld when the conversation extends to the category of “things made with anchovy” (e.g. Caesar dressing or Worcestershire sauce). And one of my favorites in this category is the classic Green Goddess Dressing, developed at the Palace hotel in San Francisco in the 1920s as a tribute to the West Coast production of the popular play, The Green Goddess.

As with Caesar dressing, anchovies provide Green Goddess’ vigorous backbone, but the overwhelming flavor is—as its name implies—the herbs. It’s multifunctional as well. Of course, it’s a salad dressing, but it can be used with crudité or smartly (with its tarragon profile) as the base of a chicken or crab salad. And as a bonus, many modern variations, like our Avocado Herb Dressing, replace some of the mayonnaise with avocado which makes it  that much better for trying to incorporate heart-healthy fats into one’s diet.

*OK, maybe just a little bit of advocating. If you like anchovies or are even on the fence (if there is such a thing in the world of anchovies) or like to try new things just once, do yourself a favor and seek out the white-fleshed boquerone. The vinegar curing gives it a vibrancy on the palate and a tenderness of texture far removed from its canned brethren. To consume one is a surprisingly similar experience one might have while eating—oh, I don’t know—a tiny, tangy piece of fish.

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