If you’re like me, then in the last few weeks you have been fiendishly devouring as many fresh-as-they-will-ever-be ripe field tomatoes as you possibly can. The season is so short, and the taste is so incomparable to what passes for the savoury fruit during the other eleven odd months of the year, that it would be a crime to let a single dinner pass without some fresh tomato dish in it. Still, after a week or so, I think it’s permissible for even the most dedicated tomatophile to seek some novelty in the presentation of so much red fleshy goodness.
So, if you’ve hit that Caprese salad road block, may I suggest a detour by way of tarragon?
The English Speaking world has been so enthralled with the cucina Italiana for the last 30 odd years, that we may be guilty of having increasingly overlooked la cuisine française. The domesticated tarragon we use in our kitchens is specifically known as ‘French tarragon’, which distinguishes it from the wild variant, ‘Russian tarragon’, and it’s hard not to think of the herb as quintessentially Gallic, especially when employed in classic dishes like poulet à l’estragon or sauce Béarnaise. And, as one of the classic fines herbes, it works just as well as a fresh compliment to summer foods, especially soups and salads. Clotilde Dusoulier includes a fantastic recipe for Tomato and Tarragon Bread Soup in her latest work, The French Market Cookbook. Her tarragon version of panade reminded me a lot of ribollita, which reminded me of the cold Tuscan bread soup, pappa al pommodoro, which made me thin why not go nuts and Frenchify the Italian fresh tomato repertoire by substituting the peppery sweet hit of basil with the licorishy note of tarragon?
I made a tomato salad, with Ontario Buffalo Mozzella and grilled eggplant with tarragon, and it worked beautifully. Then, I threw tarragon into a dish of green beans in a quick fresh garlic and tomato sauce, and it worked too. I even made “brusquettes” with taragon, and I thought they went particularly well with rosé. So, vive la difference, and have fun with your tomatoes while they last.
Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the company that publishes it. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley