SERVES 4 AS MAIN COURSE, 6 AS APPETIZER
I dreamed up this recipe during a week I spent in Palm Beach, Florida. Many of Freds’ customers spend the winter down there, and at one point I was invited to gig as a guest chef at a private club. The avenues lined with palm trees inspired the use of hearts of palm, and the soft lettuces and avocado seem to match the town’s unruffled ease. Something about the vibe on Worth Avenue, though, put me in mind of a long-lost American classic: Green Goddess dressing. Jumbo shrimp seemed the obvious pairing for a salad with a tropical vibe. When I got back to New York, we ran it as a special as a tribute to the snowbirds. It was an instant hit and was added to the permanent menu. I’m pleased that this salad is the go-to favorite lunch of Barneys’ CEO Daniella Vitale, who once told me, “I don’t know what you put in the Green Goddess dressing, but I can’t get enough.” I guess with the publication of this book, my secret will be out.
- 4 large handfuls Soft Bed Salad Blend or preferred salad blend
- 2 avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (we use a mixture of red and yellow), halved
- 8 stalks hearts of palm, blanched* and cut into 1-inch pieces (**At Freds, we use fresh hearts of palm, blanched in salted water for about 30 to 40 minutes, and then chilled. Since you may have difficulty finding fresh hearts of palm, canned ones are perfectly acceptable.)
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 16 jumbo shrimp (ask your fishmonger for Mexican or Ecuadorian white shrimp, U-12 size), peeled and deveined
- 1/4 cup white wine
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup Green Goddess Dressing, or to taste
- 4 hard-boiled eggs peeled and cut into halves or quarters
Trim and rinse all the lettuces and dry in a salad spinner. Gently tear them into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the avocado, tomatoes, and hearts of palm and gently mix together. Set aside while you cook the shrimp.
Cook the garlic in the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat until it starts to brown. Add the shrimp, then the wine, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 4 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are just cooked. Turn off heat and set aside while you dress the salad.
Drizzle dressing to your taste (start slowly — you don’t want to overdress, and you can always add more) into the bowl of salad and mix together well. Divide the salad equally among four or six plates. Place the shrimp, divided equally, on top of the salads and arrange the eggs on top. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftover dressing.
GREEN GODESS DRESSING (MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS)
Legend has it that Green Goddess dressing was invented in San Francisco in the 1920s as an homage to an actor in a play of the same name, but it really hit its apex during the ’70s; it was on menus everywhere. Maybe it got overplayed because it kind of disappeared as time went on, at least on restaurant menus. It’s too bad, though, because it’s a terrific dressing, full of flavor. Also, it raises one of life’s biggest questions: Why has it never achieved the same status of Caesar dressing (who conquered even the salad world, I guess)?
You can use any combination of herbs, but chervil and tarragon are core flavors in the original dressing, so don’t omit those. I throw in a little spinach because I want to make sure the dressing has a nice green hue.
Like many salad dressings, it’s optimal to make this a day before serving, to let the flavors meld and reach their peak. If you can’t manage a full day, at least make it 2 hours before you use it. It’s best to make it in a food processor so it will come out very smooth and emulsified. However, it is possible to make by hand or with an immersion blender; if you do, be sure to chop all the herbs, the shallot, and the anchovies very, very finely, with a mezzaluna or sharp chef’s knife, before blending together
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chervil leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh curly parsley
- 6 fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup raw spinach, finely chopped
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 anchovy filets, mashed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 6 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons good commercial mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 shakes Worcestershire sauce
- 2 shakes Tabasco sauce (optional, if you like it a little spicy)
Place all the herbs, the spinach, shallot, anchovies, salt, white pepper, and water in the bowl of a food processor. Blend together until the mixture forms a paste. Add the vinegar, yogurt, mayonnaise, and mustard and slowly blend together well. With the processor on a low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil in a slow stream until the dressing is emulsified. Add the lemon juice, Worcestershire, and Tabasco (if using), and blend together well. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before using. Will keep for up to 1 week.