I have worked waiting tables for about 20 years and, among the other questions I field from customers, occasionally get asked how Thousand Island dressing got its name. The only thing I can figure is it's similar to Russian dressing. Do you know the story behind it?
— John H. Medford
In "The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink" (Lebhar Freidman, 1994), John Mariani writes that Thousand Island is "based on Russian dressing with various additions of pickles, cream, green peppers and other seasonings."
The term first appeared in print in 1920, he says, and is most likely derived from the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River that cuts between New York and Ontario, Canada.
Mariani's recipe includes five hard-boiled eggs, along with a quart each of mayonnaise and chili sauce, sweet pickles, pimiento and green bell peppers. It doesn't keep well in the refrigerator for more than a few days, so here's the recipe adapted for a smaller batch. Besides the obvious role atop salad greens, it's wonderful on a turkey or corned beef sandwich.
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons finely chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped pimiento
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
Whisk the mayonnaise with the chili sauce, relish, pepper, pimiento, onion, paprika and salt to combine. Stir in the egg. Makes about 2 cups.