When I spotted a wooden crate of fresh tarragon at the Farmer’s Market in Oregon, my eyes lit up and I had to quickly snatch some. It was one of the many beautiful local ingredients I worked with back in Paris a few months ago that I just don’t see all too often in Oregon. The deliciously anise-like aromatics and slender robust leaves enhance the flavors of classical French dishes, rounding out the flavors of oil and cream based sauces. For cooked dishes, Tarragon is best when added near end so as to preserve the aromatics.
The first thing I made with my fresh organic tarragon from the market was a delicious, yet hearty, summer potato salad (vegan and gluten-free). You can’t go wrong with a summer potato salad made with a simple vinaigrette and chopped fresh herbs. Tarragon pairs well with other herbs, so if you have other seasonal herbs available locally it might not hurt to mix and match as available and as desired.
Preparation & Storage
To use fresh tarragon, if it isn’t already clean then rinse and pat dry with paper or kitchen towels and remove damaged or discolored leaves. Strip the leaves from the sprig and chop finely. Use the sprigs to make a flavored tarragon vinegar here.
Storing Fresh Tarragon: Wrap the entire sprig in damp kitchen or paper towels and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. To freeze fresh tarragon, place the rinsed and patted dry fresh tarragon leaves in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Frozen tarragon does not need to be defrosted before using and should last in the freezer for a couple of months.
If fresh tarragon is unavailable in your area, use dried tarragon (1 tablespoon fresh tarragon = 1 teaspoon dried) or a combination of chopped fresh chives and parsley or dill.
For the dijon mustard, you can also use stone ground mustard or a spicy dijon mustard. I used Annie’s Naturals organic dijon mustard, which has a very mild and not spicy flavor (and gluten-free).
In a medium pot, bring the potatoes, 1 quart water and 1 teaspoon salt to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. There should be at least 1–2 inches of water above potatoes. Boil potatoes until slightly firm but nearly fork-tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well and set aside to cool.
Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine garlic, lemon juice, mustard and vinegar. Slowly add olive oil and whisk in. Season with salt and pepper. Slice the potatoes width-wise into ¼-inch discs.
In a large bowl, toss potatoes with chives and tarragon. Add vinaigrette and toss well. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve salad at room temperature.
Advance preparation: The salad is best served right away.
Have you tried fresh tarragon? What new ingredients have you found so far at the Farmers’ Market?