French Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette

An Ode to Waking Your Ass Up

If ever you feel like it’s a “boo-hoo eat salad at home like a dieting loser” kind of night, I strongly advise you to make this dressing.  The recipe originally came from my mom – a bold mixture of lemon, garlic and olive oil packing a serious punch on whatever greens she dressed them with.  It woke your ass up.

I eventually made a few tweaks and in the process of mellowing the garlic with a bit of cream, ended up turning up the heat again with good and spicy dijon mustard.  Like mother, like daughter.

Make this on a stay-at-home bistro night with a grilled hangar steak and save yourself a few bucks for some other trouble.  And by the way, if you are asking yourself if it’s really worth it to toast your own croutons, just do it already and thank me later.  Never was there ever the deliciousness of a crouton before there was the one seared golden in your very own home.  And yes, that sentence didn’t really make sense, but now we’re just wasting time when you could be making some friggin’ croutons.

French Lemon Tarrragon Vinaigrette

1 lemon, juiced
1 clove of garlic, minced fine or microplaned
1/4 c. of mildly flavored olive oil
2 tbs. white wine vinegar
1 tbs. dijon mustard (don’t cheap out)
2 tbs. fresh tarragon or 1 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tbs light cream
kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Shake all ingredients but cream in a container and set aside.  Toss your greens of choice (green leaf is nice, or maybe some peppery arugula) with homemade croutons before dressing salad. When you are ready to dress the salad, pour the cream in and shake quickly.  Do it up Thomas Keller style and pour the dressing on the outside of the salad bowl rather than on top of the greens so that the leaves are coated evenly.  Eat it up, relishing in the fact that you ate a salad cheaper than one from TGIFridays, but a hell of a lot tastier.

Homemade Croutons

2 cups of cubed bread (baguette, ciabatta, whatever – just no WonderBread)
2-3 tbs. of butter
salt and pepper

Warm a skillet to medium heat and plunk in a few tablespoons of butter.  Toss in the bread cubes and stir, coating each cube with the melting butter.  Season with scant salt and copious pepper as the cubes toast.  Remove from pan once the cubes are golden.  Let cool slightly and then add to salad.

2 thoughts on “French Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette”

  1. BEST SALAD EVER. These croutons are ridiculous. They are so good they will make you want to chuck any regular croutons served to you at your waiter.

  2. I was reading Thomas Keller's "Ad Hoc" and he gives the same rationale for making your own croutons. I believe that I saw Eric Ripert do the same. I just advocate them because they taste so damn good, but apparently it's rooted in expert advice.

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