From the Garden – Green Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette

green salad with tarragon vinaigrette

When I planted our salad green seedlings I vowed to let them grow for one month undisturbed before starting to snip away at them. Let them put in some good roots, enjoy sunshine, drink rain, and nuzzle with bumble bees. But I’ve been greedily eyeballing them every day and they’ve been teasing me by growing well, doubling in size. Finally yesterday I could not resist and snipped the first leaves, early by a week. Fresh from the garden greens taste markedly different from the store bought kind-they’re still alive. When you cut them and see how delicate the leaves are it’s a wonder commercial greens can survive transport, sitting out at the store, and still be in good condition.

early harvest green salad

I’m a bit of a picky salad eater, I rarely order them at restaurants. I detest the standard iceberg lettuce, unripe tomato and shredded carrot salads. I remember being blown away when mixed field greens first came on the market years ago, but now these too have become ubiquitous, everyone serves that exact same salad straight out of the package.

green_salad

This salad consists of greens all from our little container garden-young leaves of kale, arugula, red oak leaf lettuce, curly endive, dill and chives, tossed with a tarragon vinaigrette. I wanted this salad to be relatively unadorned, showcasing the simple deliciousness of truly fresh greens. No tomato, no cucumber, no avocado, just the leaves, some herbs and a simple vinaigrette.

tarragon_vinaigrette

tarragon_vinaigrette
While we were eating the salad my husband kept asking me if everything in it really came from our garden. Indeed it does seem on par with a miracle for city dwellers with no backyard to be able to grow food to eat. I’m jealous of anyone with a real in-ground garden, the potential is amazing. To us this salad tasted extra delicious partly because of the freshness of the greens, but mostly because we were proud that we had grown them ourselves.

Green Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette

a couple of handfuls of fresh salad leaves per person (red oak leaf lettuce, kale, arugula, curly endive)
fresh herbs to taste (dill and chives)

1 small shallot (about 2 tbsp), finely minced
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp of your favorite good mustard, or more to taste
6 tbsp olive oil
1-2 sprigs of tarragon, leaves picked and chopped
salt and pepper

Wash and dry the greens in a salad spinner. Small to medium sized leaves are lovely left whole. Large leaves like oak leaf lettuce can be torn into smaller pieces. When preparing kale I usually remove all the tough ropey stems, but you don’t need to do this when the leaves are small and young. Just trim off the thicker base of the stem.

Toss the greens together in a serving bowl and snip in dill and chives to taste.

To prepare the vinaigrette, pour vinegar over shallots, add a pinch of salt and leave to marinate for at least half an hour. This part of the process is very important as the vinegar will mellow out the pungent bad breath making aspects of the shallot. The shallot will turn a rosy colour.

Whisk in mustard. Then very slowly whisk in olive oil. Taste, and if you like your dressing less vinegary, add more olive oil.

Add a few cracks of freshly ground black pepper and the chopped tarragon.

Dress salad just before serving. I like what Jamie Oliver says about using your “fairy fingers” to gently toss the salad with the dressing.

Any leftover vinaigrette will keep in the fridge for about 2 days.

green salad vinaigrette

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Life tastes good.