Last night I dreamed of tarragon again. Really. But I also just finished reading Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, so in my mind tarragon and Manderley are intertwined and together they inspired my new favorite salad. I only wish I were eating it beneath the chestnut tree by the sea.
Tarragon is the star of this recipe with its brilliantly aromatic leaves that are faintly reminiscent of anise. The second star of this recipe is champagne vinegar. It’s milder and lighter than wine vinegar or sherry vinegar. It is not as sweet as balsamic. It pairs very well with this light but filling salad. The third of this all-star cast are the slivered and toasted almonds. Watch them carefully because it is very easy to burn them. You want them to be lightly golden and aromatic.
This salad will stand alone as a meal with a good, crusty multigrain baguette without leaving you overfed and over filled.
For the dressing
3 tablespoons organic, plain nonfat yogurt
2 tablespoons organic mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1-2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
For the salad
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced
1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
2 teaspoons (or more to taste) finely chopped organic tarragon
1 cup red seedless grapes, cut in half OR 1 finely chopped honeycrisp apple
1-2 heads of organic red leaf or bibb lettuce, or a mix of both
Whisk together the dressing ingredients. You don’t want this to be a thick dressing because it will overpower the salad. This is not ranch dressing. 🙂
Add chicken, almonds, grapes or apple, and tarragon to a large salad bowl. Clean and spin the lettuce and tear into bite-sized pieces into the bowl. The size of your lettuce pieces is very important to the finished product. You should never serve a salad that appears to be tossed without ensuring that the lettuce is torn into pieces small enough to fit politely into your mouth, unless it is obvious that for presentation reasons, a fork and knife will be required (think grilled romaine head Caesar salad). It is a personal pet peeve of mine when large pieces of lettuce are carelessly thrown willy-nilly into a salad.
Add dressing in small increments and toss as you go. This salad will be destroyed if you over-dress it. The ingredients of the body of this salad first chair the concert. The dressing is simply background music.