Until recent times, tarragon enjoyed little or no esteem in most kitchens, being mostly regarded as a French quirk! A native of southern Europe, this herb prefers dry soil and lots of sun. It has a pronounced anise-like flavor and minty heat. French tarragon, the culinary herb of choice (not to be mistaken with Russian tarragon, which has much less flavor), is a hardy perennial that will grow about 1 to 2 feet and will produce wiry stems. It is perfectly suited to our East Coast climate. My own tarragon plant produces green shoots as early as April and has survived our harshest winters.
Everyone will recognize the flavor of tarragon vinegar or béarnaise sauce, but why stop there?! Tarragon is a delicate yet sophisticated herb that lends itself to many wonderful dishes. I use it in salad dressings, in frittatas (as in today’s recipe), in pastas with fresh beets, and in soups with tender young carrots or peas. It is good indeed to break away from traditions and explore all the possibilities that this supreme herb offers the avid cooks among us!
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