I love it when my daughter adores a well-cooked meal I’ve made. But you know what I love even more? Getting her involved and then she really loves the dish! Such was the case tonight with my “Butter Lettuce Salad with Tarragon and Citrus-Honey Vinaigrette” created by Michelin-star Chef Eric Ripert. But before we get into all the Oo-ing and Ahh-ing over how the dish actually tasted, let me back up and share with you the little adventure I had prior to even tossing the salad!
It was early afternoon and I headed out to Costco to stock up on produce. I figured that somewhere in the vast warehouse of supplies, surely they would have butter/bibb lettuce. Unfortunately, after fighting the Sunday crowds I walked away empty handed. So off we went to the grocery store. Gathering my supplies I remembered that I needed Tarragon leaves. Now keep in mind, I keep a very well-stocked spice rack. I know the smells of dry spices fairly well. But when it comes to the fresh, living plant…. not so much. As I peered in my organic produce section I almost panicked. Basil…. Lemongrass… Chives… Cilantro… Mint…. where was the Tarragon? Tarragon? Anyone? Nope. Not one plant or herb bundle in sight. I looked at my husband with panicked eyes. “Let’s check the organic, health store” he suggested and off we went again.
Rounding the corner into the parking lot all the lights were off. My fate to find fresh Tarragon had been sealed. It just wasn’t going to happen. “Okay…” I told myself calmly, “Perhaps there is a substitute”. As I walked through the door I scrambled to my computer and began googling. Fun fact: French cooking often revolves around fines herbes. Don’t know what that is? Neither did I. Apparently French cooking is well-known for gathering fresh herbs from the garden and tying them up into a tiny satchel and letting them infuse their aromatic scent and taste into sauces, roasts, etc. One of the many ingredients in this tiny satchel is Tarragon! By the way, have I mentioned that Chef Ripert is French? Like… from-the-motherland French. Anyway, Tarragon has a very strong, aromatic scent so it isn’t surprising that Eric Ripert added it into his recipe. But I, was not so lucky on finding this mysterious herb.
So I began making the salad dressing. Much to my luck and surprise, this recipe calls for Tarragon leaves to be tossed throughout the Bibb lettuce. I didn’t need it in the salad dressing at all! I did a silent happy dance in the kitchen and kept cooking. My daughter stood between me and the kitchen counter and our hands moved synchronously as we juiced a lemon, and then a lime. She grinned as she smelled the difference in the citrus. Next we added a bit of Dijon mustard and honey and whisked it together. Salt and pepper were added for taste and balance before slowly adding in several tablespoons of canola oil. As the salmon finished broiling, (you can find the recipe for the salmon here), we drizzled the vinaigrette over the salad and tossed it, evenly coating the lettuce.
Plates were served and I silently watched my family dig into their meal. For a long minute silent passed. I raised an eyebrow. Silence is usually a good sign. Finally I asked my daughter how she liked it. Through a mouth full of lettuce and salmon she grinned, “It’s awesome Mom!”. My husband chimed in as he lapped up his food. Mission accomplished! The tangy dressing was the prefect compliment to the sweet, silky lettuce and the salmon added a savory element to the plate. Everything was fantastic. But the best part was seeing my family so happy. Cooking a meal for your loved ones is truly another expression of love. Have a great evening everyone! ❤