Tarragon is a wonderful perennial herb. Last year, I was telling Lulu my wish to add tarragon to our herb garden. We were clueless about how to plant it. First, we made a big mistake when we bought Russian tarragon, which is very weak in flavor. The best is the French variety, but of course it is . It has a nice anise, "licorice-y" flavor. Anyway, now we have 4 beautiful French tarragon plants that are very vivacious. We have so much that I came up with a recipe for grilling summer vegetables that uses tarragon in two ways; first on the grill while I'm grilling the vegetables, and second as a tarragon-flavored vinaigrette. The result was, surprisingly, very nice.
I need some more ideas on how to use all the tarragon left I have. I'm open to any suggestions. I'll try to make your recipe and post a picture.
Servings: 4 servings
1 carrot, shredded
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 dozen asparagus
1 package button mushrooms, (about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup olive oil, as needed
12 sprigs French tarragon, as needed
1 garlic chive, thinly sliced
salt, as needed
1 teaspoon white peppercorns, freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns, freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns, freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon pickled garlic
2 teaspoons honey Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon curly parsley, finely chopped
For the tarragon vinegar: Coarsely chop about a cup of tarragon leaves. Place them in a mortar and pestle and slightly bruise them. Bring 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar to a boil. Place the tarragon in the hot liquid. Let the liquid cool completely. Strain the liquid using a fine mesh sieve. Discard the tarragon leaves. Set aside.
For the carrots: Peel the carrot. Shred the whole carrot. If you use the Messermeister too, you'll get long threads of carrot pieces. Cut into about 3-inch pieces. Place the carrots in a bowl. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar. Drizzle with a tablespoon of tarragon-flavored vinegar. Toss well. Set aside.
For the tarragon-infused oil: Gather about 1/3 cup of tarragon leaves. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Blanch (dip for 15 seconds in boiling water then transfer into an ice bath) the tarragon leaves. Drain thoroughly of all water, then pat dry on a paper towel. Roughly chop. Transfer and blend the tarragon and garlic chive in a mini-blender. Add about 1/2 cup of the olive oil (or more) depending on how smooth the flow is. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
For the tarragon vinaigrette: In a bowl, dissolve the rest of the sugar in 1/4 cup of tarragon vinegar. Add the dry mustard, honey mustard, salt and the pickled garlic. Mix well. Add the tarragon-chive oil. Stir well. Set aside
For each grilled vegetable: Place 2 sprigs of tarragon on the grill to let it release its nice aroma while grilling the vegetables. Replace with other sprigs often, to prevent it from burning. As soon as the vegetable is grilled, season with salt and pepper.
For the asparagus: Trim about 2 inches from the root. Cut the asparagus lengthwise into halves. Brush a hot griddle pan with olive oil. Lightly coat the asparagus halves using a silicone brush. Place the pieces on the griddle. Cook until you get grill marks (about 2-3 minutes on each side) over medium heat. Do not overcook; it should be still tender and crisp and not mushy or you would have depleted all the healthy nutrients. Remove from the pan.
For the button mushrooms: Cut the mushrooms lengthwise into halves. Brush a hot griddle pan with olive oil. Lightly coat the mushroom halves using a silicone brush. Place the pieces on the griddle. Cook until you get grill marks (about 2-3 minutes on each side) over medium heat. Remove from the pan.
For the zucchini: Trim zucchini and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect all the excess moisture). Place the zucchini slices on the rack. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Pat dry using a paper towel. Brush a hot griddle pan with olive oil. Lightly coat the zucchini slices using a silicone brush. Place the slices on the griddle. Cook until you get grill marks (about 4-5 minutes on each side) over medium heat. Remove from the pan. Cut the grilled zucchini into 5-inch chunks. Set aside.
For the eggplant: Trim eggplants and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect all the excess moisture). Place the eggplant slices on the rack. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Pat dry using a paper towel. Brush a hot griddle pan with olive oil. Lightly coat the eggplant slices using a silicone brush.. Place the slices on the griddle. Cook until you get grill marks (about 4-5 minutes on each side) over medium heat. Remove from the pan. Cut the grilled eggplants into 5-inch chunks. Set aside.
For the bell peppers: Wash the bell peppers, pat dry, then brush with oil. Place a grill on your stove, then char all the skin of the bell pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Wash the bell pepper under running tap water; the skin will come right off. Seed it, then slice the bell pepper lengthwise into long strips. Season with salt and pepper.
Assembly time: On a large platter, place a mound of each vegetable then drizzle with the salad dressing. Sprinkle some curly parsley and all 3 kinds of pepper.
Accompany with a steak or a roasted chicken.
This dish is perfect if you're hosting a buffet-style party. It's a time saver. You can grill the vegetables in advance and pour the vinaigrette when you're ready to serve.
To get an appealing presentation, it's important to get nice grill marks on the veggies. I use a cast iron grill but you can also use a non-stick griddle pan, which is less expensive and as efficient as the cast iron one.
You can mix and match any other vegetables that are in season. You can add other antipasti like portobello mushrooms, broccoli rabe, sweet peas, marinated artichoke hearts, cauliflower Milanese, some charcuterie cold meat, olives, mozzarella balls or any other cheese like pecorino or provolone. Be creative!
For the tarragon vinegar: Infusing tarragon in vinegar requires the same method as infusing mint in my cardamom-flavored Arnold Palmer. Just slightly bruise the tarragon, then dunk the herb in the hot white wine vinegar. Let infuse for a few minutes and let the liquid cool completely. Use immediately.
To ensure a bright green color for the tarragon oil, blanch the herbs then transfer to an ice bath, just as you would for making pesto.
For the salad dressing, it's essential to add mustard which is a great binder (it contains some lecithin) for a smooth-textured vinaigrette.
You can use fresh garlic instead of the pickled garlic but fresh garlic is going to be a lot stronger. You can find pickles garlic in any Asian store.
For the asparagus, remember to trim off a little piece from the root; it tends to be very fibrous. Another method is to snap off the asparagus. Hold the asparagus firmly between your fingers, bend it and the fibrous part will break and come off naturally.
I found this wonderful gadget from Messermeister. It's THE best utensil for julienning vegetables. Is that a verb? Anyway, this tool is also very convenient to shred carrot and also to make eggrolls. It's fast, as well.