Do you like tarragon? Do you know what it tastes like? I mean fresh tarragon, not old dry dust from a jar. Tarragon tastes a little like licorice, but I don’t like licorice and I love tarragon. It tastes a little sharp. It tastes green.
If you want to jazz up your cooking in the easiest possible way, make it your firm determination to start a little herb garden THIS YEAR. Yes, I’m shouting – quit putting it off. If you are putting it off, you are probably over-thinking the whole thing. Just go to Lowe’s or your friendly neighborhood plant place and get a couple or four pots of herbs. Get basil if you are past the frost free date by a week or two (or come back later – basil is a must!). Get thyme, get chives, get parsley (flat or curly – please yourself), and by all means get French tarragon. Ok, that’s five, but I won’t tell. I won’t even say anything if some dill and sage follows you home, too. Or, if rosemary tucks itself into your car, who will complain? Not me.
Ok, once you’ve brought them home, stick them on the north or east side of your house for a couple of days to harden them off. Then dig one hole for each pot you couldn’t resist and plant. Pick a sunny place for all of these. No, not shady, not semi-shady – sunny. Good. Water them if it’s hot for the first week or two. Give them a good drink 1-2 times a week if it’s not. After a couple of weeks, ignore them except to pinch off pieces for the rest of the growing season.
Thyme, chives, tarragon, sage, and rosemary are perennial, so they will be your friends for years. Basil must be planted every year, but we forgive it because it is the best thing ever. Dill usually self-sows so it acts like a perennial. Easy peasy.
Tarragon and chives are the first herbs to refresh themselves in late March/early April in my growing zone 6. They make wonderful partners in salad dressings, egg dishes, fish and chicken dishes, and on asparagus, another treasure of the lazy spring gardener who somehow had the foresight to plant some years ago.
If you are so fortunate as to have some tarragon at your disposal, try this dressing. It is adapted from one in Southern Living. It takes a couple of minutes to stir up and you will want to eat it on everything. It is wonderful on green beans and roasted potatoes as a warm salad. Spoon it over a lettuce salad with cooked chicken for a main dish. I enjoyed a simple supper for one last night of a few slices of cheese, a slice of toasted homemade bread, and blanched asparagus drizzled with this dressing.
Creamy Tarragon Dressing
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons snipped chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1. Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Gradually whisk in oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. (Or use stick blender to emulsify dressing.) Whisk in green onion and tarragon. Use immediately, or store in fridge for a few days. Let chilled dressing stand 30 minutes before using.
Yield: Makes about 3/4 cup