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Using French Tarragon

French tarragon is a frequent addition to every cook’s spice cabinet and it makes its appearance on grocery shelves every year as the holiday season approaches. As well-known as this herb is, its use is often a mystery. What makes this herb so special and distinctive? How can it be used in your kitchen?

From the Garden to the Kitchen

Tarragon is a traditional Eurasian cooking herb that grows native on the European continent and in the temperate regions of Asia. It favors dry soil and sunny days and will return to the garden each year with just a little encouragement. French tarragon is the variety most frequently used in cooking though the less aromatic Russian and wild varieties may also be used but are not recommended.

Along with fresh chives, parsley, and chervil, tarragon is one of the four traditional French cooking herbs; this collection of herbs is often called fines herbes in French recipes. The aromatic, slightly sweet flavor of French tarragon goes well with the moderate to mild flavors of chicken, fish, and egg dishes. The fresh leaves can also be added to green salads. Dried, it is used in broth soups.

French Tarragon Recipes

Fresh Herb Marinade

This tangy marinade pairs the fresh taste of French tarragon with the mild bite of mustard. Stone ground or Dijon mustard works best though regular yellow mustard will work in a pinch. Try the marinade with light cuts of pork, chicken breast, or even generous cuts of tofu. Left over marinade can be added to a garden salad as a dressing.


· 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

· 2 Tbsp fresh French tarragon, chopped

· 2 Tbsp stone ground mustard

· 1 Tbsp lemon juice

· 1 clove garlic, minced

· Salt and fresh pepper to taste


1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until marinade has gained a smooth, even consistency.

2. Place two or three chicken breasts in a wide bowl or sealable plastic bag. Add marinade to the meat.

3. Let meat sit covered in the refrigerator for approximately six hours.

4. Bake chicken in oven or cook on the grill.

Creamy Herb Salad Dressing

This rich salad dressing is an exciting alternative to ranch. Use it on a tossed salad or as a dip for raw veggies. Because it mixes up so easily, it can be set out for guests to snack on or brought to a party. You’ll want to be sure to pack the chopped herbs into the measuring cups in order to get the required amount. Use fresh herbs throughout this recipe.


· 1 cup mayonnaise

· ½ cup sour cream

· ¼ cup chives, roughly chopped

· ¼ cup parsley, roughly chopped

· ¼ cup French tarragon, roughly chopped

· 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

· 1 Tbsp lemon juice

· ½ tsp anchovy paste (optional)

· Salt and fresh pepper to taste


1. Place all fresh herbs in a food processor; pulse briefly until herbs are finely chopped.

2. Add white wine vinegar, lemon juice, and anchovy paste to the herb mixture in the food processor; pulse again to blend.

3. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, and salt and pepper. Blend until the dressing is an even, creamy texture.

4. Dressing can be stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Roast Mushrooms with Tarragon

This easy vegetable side pairs well with just about any main dish. The mild taste and absorbent texture of mushrooms makes them perfect for adding bold seasonings to. Serve with dinner or as an easy addition to your brunch menu. The more pronounced flavor of cremini mushrooms is preferred though regular white mushrooms will also work.


· 1 lb. thickly cut mushrooms

· 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (set 2 Tbsp aside)

· 2 Tbsp fresh French tarragon, chopped

· 1 clove garlic, minced

· ½ tsp stone ground mustard

· 1 ½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar

· Salt and fresh pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees; place a sheet of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet (shiny side down).

2. Place sliced mushrooms in a bowl with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Toss mushrooms to evenly coat in oil.

3. Transfer mushrooms to cookie sheet; let roast for 12 – 15 minutes, until they start to brown.

4. Place chopped tarragon, garlic, mustard, vinegar, remaining olive oil, salt, and pepper into a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are creamed together.

5. Remove roast mushrooms from oven and transfer to a bowl. Drizzle in 1 – 2 Tbsp of tarragon sauce and toss to coat. Serve hot.

6. Remaining sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month.

**In addition to those recipes try chopped French Tarragon sprinkled on eggs and egg based dishes.

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