A Touch of Tarragon


Tarragon is one of those herbs that is always dressed for the dance, but never gets invited out.

And yet – when I think of tarragon, I think of France, Julia Child, poached eggs, Dijon mustard and Green Goddess salad dressing.

When I think of tarragon, I become nostalgic and wistful for things I can’t even fathom – I suspect it comes from inhaling the intoxicating aroma that comes when you rub tarragon between your fingertips. It makes you think of adventures that you’ve always longed to take, but never did.

Tarragon is one of those delicate yet heady herbs that many keep jarred at the back of a kitchen cabinet, purchased on a whim and then promptly forgotten. Or to be glanced crammed together with all the other fresh herbs at your local grocery store, vying for attention. Yet, with its mild anise flavour, it’s an herb just waiting to get asked out to the culinary dance.

Belonging to the sunflower family, it’s one of the four main herbs in classic French cooking, as described in the excellent The Story of Food – An Illustrated History of Everything We Eat (DK).

According to McCormick Canada, tarragon is a highly aromatic with a licorice-like flavour, used in roast chicken, eggs, herb butter and vinaigrettes.

And let’s not forget, tarragon is best known as the most important ingredient in the classic bearnaise sauce – that emulsified lukewarm egg/butter sauce that’s usually served alongside bistro-favourite steak frites. (Bearn, in southwest France, is the birthplace for this delicious sauce.)

Tarragon has been used for centuries. When was the last time you took your tarragon out for a whirl? 


Use this delicious, fragrant salad dressing recipe on any combination of greens (Boston Bibb is my fave, with some boiled eggs thrown in for good measure), or use it for a pasta salad, or drizzled on a few boiled baby potatoes. Adapted from a recipe courtesy Vitamix.com/ca

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. EACH Dijon mustard and tarragon vinegar

1 Tbsp. EACH apple cider vinegar and olive oil

1 Tbsp.  EACH chopped fresh tarragon and flat-leaf parsley

2 green onions, white parts with some green, finely minced

1/4 tsp. EACH salt and sugar

Pinch white pepper

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend to emulsify. Pour into a glass jar, cover and store in fridge for up to three days.