Tarragon is a low shrub native to Asia with flat, narrow, glossy-green leaves. It's actually a member of the lettuce family, and its tender leaves are quite tasty when raw! You can also find it as a dry spice, though the flavor is much diminished.
There are two main types of tarragon: French and Russian. We generally prefer to use French tarragon for its delicate, balanced flavor. Russian tarragon can be harsh-tasting and is significantly less aromatic.
The two most common uses for tarragon are in the French "fine herbes" blend and as part of a bearnaise sauce (hollandaise sauce with tarragon and shallots added). Tarragon is also often used as a flavoring for pickled vegetables.
Beyond that, we need to get a little creative! Since the leaves are so tender, they can be mixed in with other greens for salads or sprinkled over a finished dish much like parsley. The anise flavor goes well in tomato dishes, so we can see using it in panzanella and caprese salads, in tomato-based soups, or in tomato sauces for pasta. Used sparingly, tarragon makes a nice seasoning for fish and seafood dishes, or with eggs. Tarragon can also be muddled or infused into simple syrup for to use in cocktails and summer coolers!
We'd really love to start using more tarragon in our cooking. Please share your suggestions for using it!
(Image: Artistic Gardens)