Until recently, I thought of tarragon as a small, confusing, dusty jar in the back of my mother's spice cabinet. If you'd asked, I'd have no descriptors for you other than stale and green.
But I have finally come around, and begun to think of fresh herbs as ingredients worthy of attention, as friends to get to know for their own merits rather than just an obligatory plus-one to bring to a party. It first started with parsley, which tastes so flat when it's not fresh but screams for you to add its wide leaves to everything when it's vibrant and new.
Eager to add more fresh herbs to my circle of friends, I awaited tarragon's arrival with a sort of optimistic suspense. Our first encounter this spring was a happy one: its flavors reminded me of fennel, but sweeter, and it had a strength that didn't overwhelm other ingredients -- I learned that I could use it in not just pinches, but handfuls.
For a lunch-or-dinner salad, I paired it with soft white beans, parsley (of course), crunchy radishes, wisps of red onion, lemon, and a whole lot of really great olive oil. You could easily mix in a grain -- something resilient and chewy, like farro or wheatberries -- but I'm a sucker for a crusty loaf of bread to sop everything up, a starch and a utensil all in one. Turn your leftover baguette into cubes, toast them, and tomorrow you'll have a panzanella. Because this whole thing came about in the spring -- and, after all, spring is a time for rebirth.
White Bean Salad with Tarragon
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
1/4 cup tarragon, finely chopped (one medium-sized bunch)
1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped (one small bunch, or half of a large one)
1/2 small red onion, mandolined in half-moons
4 to 5 radishes (I used breakfast), sliced in half moons
Juice of one large lemon
1/3 cup good olive oil
Generous sprinkle of flaky salt
See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.
Photos by Eric Moran
This article originally appeared on Food52.com: White Bean Salad with Tarragon