Summers on its way and this simple salad is sophisticated enough to have with your Christmas turkey, a beautiful lemony roast Bostok organic chicken or your weekend barbecue leg of lamb. Tarragon is one of my favourite herbs, it reminds me of amazing traditional French cooking and it matches fantastically with the beans, the hazelnuts and the blueberries in this salad.
Tarragon is not often seen in todays cooking but it is a beautiful and under used summer herb and not difficult to grow. If you have left over tarragon from this salad or a glut of it in your garden pop it in a sterilised jar or bottle with some white wine vinegar and you will have tarragon vinegar for your next salad. Leave the tarragon in the bottle with the vinegar for several weeks and then strain it off for delicious tarragon vinegar that will keep in a cool dark place for at least a year. There are definitely more sophisticated methods for making tarragon vinegar but this has worked for me.
Tarragon works well with eggs, potatoes, seafood, poultry, and is great in creamy or lemony sauces, think about delicious hollandaise or bernaise sauces or a butter, white wine, caper and tarragon pan reduction over fish ….. My favourite salad at work recently used tarragon vinegar, brown rice and a mix finely sliced and grated different coloured beetroot that I marinated in tarragon vinegar and then olive oil mustard and lots of seeds chervil and chives. So versatile and such a simple way of adding a different flavour to your salads this summer.
TODAYS SUMMER GREEN BEAN SALAD
Enough for four people as a generous side dish
- Small handful of beans per person (approximately 350 – 400 grams)
- Fresh baby spinach
- Small punnet (approximately 125 grams) fresh blueberries
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped Tarragon
- Approximately 50 grams Hazelnuts – toasted, skins rubbed roughly off and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon Dijon or Tarragon mustard
- Juice of half a lemon (depending on the size and juiciness of the lemon you may need a little more)
- Approximately 1/4 cup (preferably buttery not too peppery) extra virgin olive oil
- Approximately 1/4 teaspoon of salt (you can add more if necessary) and a good grind of pepper to taste
Start with a bowl large enough to make your salad.
Make the dressing in the bottom of the large bowl by whisking together the olive oil, mustard salt pepper and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning (lemon juice and salt for a strongly flavoured dressing
Taking care not to burn toast the hazelnuts, cook them either on the stove top or in the oven and rub off the loose skin. Roughly chop them and add to the dressing.
Blanch or steam your beans until barely cooked and add them hot to the dressing and mix well.
Add the blueberries and tarragon while the beans are still warm, and mix gently.
Finally add the spinach just before serving and gently toss together.
NOTE – This salad like most salads is best served at room temperature. If you want to prepare in advance it is best to to keep the components seperate and mix all just before serving or the lemon juice will “cook” the beans and they will loose there beautiful bright colour.