It started as this small thing, just a tiny container from a local nursery. Then, like something out of a 1950s horror film, by August last summer, my French tarragon grew into an embarrassment of riches on the patio of my Seattle home. On a chilly day in late autumn, I hacked most of it back and dried it to make my own fine herbs, that classic combination that’s a mainstay in French cuisine. The traditional ingredients include parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil, all of which I grow all on my patio garden most summers. Generally, herbs don’t overwinter well in Seattle. They spring up, make a show over summer, tolerate my regular hackings and then retreat until I let them drift into stiff vines or get around to drying them.
To my surprise, however, the tarragon resurrected with exceptional vigor this spring. When I first investigated my patio this past March, it greeted me like a baby unexpectedly up and standing in a morning crib, all happy and ready for summer. It reminded me that too often, we underestimate people or things, or even plants.
I stumbled across this recipe originally published in Bon Appetit in 2005. I made some changes to it, notably tossing the greens with a bit of pasta to round it out as a full meal. I first made it for my mother visiting from Florida. “It tastes like summer,” she said. I agree.
- 6 ounces linguine, cooked and drained
- ¾ pound of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ⅓ cup chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
- ½ cup finely chopped shallots (about two large)
- ¼ cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream or half & half
- 10 oz. baby spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable stock
- Add water to a large stockpot and bring it to a boil. Once at the boil, add 1 tablespoon salt and add the pasta, cooking it according to package directions while you complete the rest of the dish.
- Toss shrimp, parsley, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lemon zest, half the chopped tarragon, and half the minced ginger in medium bowl. Generally season the mixture with sea salt and ground pepper.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until soft, about four minutes. Add the white wine and reduce briefly, about two minutes. Add shrimp mixture; sauté until shrimp are almost cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add butter and cream; bring just to simmer. Add remaining 1 teaspoon ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Set shrimp aside in another bowl, scraping out most of the pan’s contents.
- Put the pan back on the heat and heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add spinach and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until just wilted, about 25 seconds. Add the cooked spaghetti and the vegetable stock and stir through to integrate the leaves into the pasta. Mound spinach pasta mixture in center of plates top with shrimp and sauce. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 2 teaspoons tarragon; serve.