Inventing Emerald City Salad

One of Seattle’s signature recipes came from an inclusive goal. Meg Petty invented PCC’s Emerald City Salad when working in the View Ridge deli in the early 1990s.

“At the time, one of the women we worked with had a lot of food allergies. I thought it would be nice to create a recipe for her,” and all the other people on limited diets.

Trying to avoid vinegar-based dressings and common allergens, Petty devised a healthful, colorful mix of chiffonaded hearty greens, peppers, and other vegetables and herbs, tossed with cooked wild rice dressed in lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. It’s been one of PCC’s most popular deli dishes and most-sought-after recipes since, and was immortalized as one of Seattle’s signature recipes in a 2017 exhibit at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry.

Handwritten recipes were the norm back then, and each store deli ran semi-independently. If a recipe sold well, Petty recalled, staff would send its information to PCC headquarters to “do the math” and make sure it would work on a broader scale, then type it up and distribute it to other stores. For years, Emerald City’s origins were lost—but Petty always knew and enjoyed the fact it was her creation.

“That’s my salad!” she remembers saying when she visited a co-op in Montana with family and saw them selling the same dish.

Petty grew up in a small town in Wyoming with a mother who was “kind of a health food fanatic” and shopped at a health food store that “was totally funky, probably like PCC was in the beginning.” She worked there in college and later became friends with Jennifer and Henry Gordon, who founded the PCC deli program. After college she traveled a few years, then joined PCC, first as a cheese wrapper and then as a deli coordinator. She became a cashier after her first child was born, working alternating shifts with her husband, who also worked at PCC.

While it wasn’t completely flexible—retail jobs rarely are—it was a welcome solution. “There were options for me when I had my family, to stay employed there and still be able to spend time with my kids,” she said.

Petty now works for BECU, a community-owned credit union and PCC partner. She said she has good memories of her PCC days—and her enduring recipe.

“Every time I go into PCC I look for it, and it’s always in the case.”


emerald city salad


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