This delicate fresh tarragon sauce has a distinct flavor is 5-ingredient easy and brightens up pasta and veggies in no time
I don’t know about you, but pasta is kind of a mainstay in our house. And don’t get me wrong, I love tomato-based full flavor sauces like Puttanesca or Bolognese. And sometimes when I’m looking for comfort, nothing’s better than a rich-tasting white sauce, like bechamel.
But warmer weather and fresh veggies, such as fresh asparagus, (even if cost dictates using frozen), entices me to start looking for lighter ways to enjoy pasta. And when the sun is shining, who wants to be off slaving over the stove?
This recipe was created with two goals – a summer pasta dish our favorite seasonal vegetable (asparagus) and making something that takes precisely (more or less) as long as the pasta takes to cook. We used our favorite whole wheat penne for this one, but the thinner consistency is also well-suited for angel hair or farfalle (the butterflies).
Tarragon, also known as dragon herb, is quite famous as a part of French cuisine. You probably had a bottle of the dry stuff already. A friend recently compared fresh tarragon to a weed. Agreed. It’s not the most beautiful, but don’t judge the herb by its book cover.
Give that ‘weedy’ fresh tarragon a sniff, you’ll immediately get the scent that will remind you of anise (licorice) or fennel. You may have tasted it before or even have a bottle of tarragon-infused vinegar sitting in your cupboard at this very moment.
Tarragon has a delicate flavor with a bit of citrus. Don’t be scared off when you toss in a few weedy sprigs to infuse with the wine, tarragon is timid and won’t overpower. We like it so much that we even chopped a bit to toss in sauce toward the end of this short cooking process.
Fresh tarragon usually arrives in the spring and summer months in abundance (and at lower prices). Tarragon, like most fresh herbs, benefit from a bit of extra care and consideration. Ideally, you should use it within a few days of purchase and store it in the fridge. To store fresh tarragon, gently wash and pat it dry and place it between 2 slightly damp paper towels. Be considerate of where you place it in the fridge that it doesn't end up in the coldest part.
How to make tarragon sauce
This is a super easy process with a little French chef stuff tossed in for good measure. Seriously, how many times do you get to talk about a fresh-herb infusion? And what’s that? It’s just simmering tarragon in wine for 15 minutes. After that, this is a 5-minutes whisk up.
This sauce really calls for white wine. The video uses an alcohol-free wine, but rest assured, this isn’t a drunken sauce. The alcohol will dissipate as it simmers.
I used arrowroot to thicken it up because I find it to be more lump-resistant. It’s also gluten-free if that's a concern. You can also use cornstarch for the same results. If you find this sauce a bit too thin to your liking, add more plant milk and/or arrowroot. A spoonful or two of plant-based sour cream would also be a nice addition.
You can also shake things up by simmering cauliflower with stalks of tarragon and then following the recipe for our basic white sauce. Interesting!
What to serve with tarragon sauce
Tarragon sauce compliments any veggie you might use with lemon. Besides the asparagus that we love it with, you can also consider steaming up one or a combination of:
Admittedly, it’s isn’t hard for me to get excited about anything with fresh asparagus. The biggest danger in the entire process is that my favorite veggies somehow (?) gets diverted from the plate of pasta and sauce to my mouth. It’s a true test of willpower.
Waiting to sit at the table and enjoy the full dish was certainly worth it. No more fat-fueled cheese sauce for me. Tarragon sauce over veggies is a winner.
It reminds me of how a small change keeps the wheel turning. The motivation for change could be as simple as taking a break from the same old sauce or honoring a favorite seasonal vegetable. Maybe you want to break from unhealthy sauces smothering your veggies and pasta.
If a healthy change is what you’re looking for, it could be just one meal away. That’s small, I know, but small changes, even a few at a time, create momentum. That action turns the wheel and keeps you going down the path – even if that path is toward more fresh tarragon and asparagus. Peace.Print
Delicate fresh tarragon sauce has a distinct flavor is 5-ingredient easy and brightens up asparagus and pasta for a deliciously quick plant-based dinner.
- ¼ cup finely chopped onion or shallot
- 1 ½ cups white wine or vegetable broth
- 2 sprigs fresh tarragon plus 1-2 tsp. finely chopped
- 1 cup plant milk
- 2 Tbsp. arrowroot (you can also substitute cornstarch)
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- 10 oz. (300 gm) asparagus tips
- Pasta for 4 people (we used 10 ounces or 300 gms.)
- Small dice the onion and finely dice 1-2 tsp. fresh tarragon leaves.
- Wash and prepare the asparagus tips and set them in the steamer.
- Measure out your pasta and start the pasta water.
- Heat a smaller saucepan over medium and then add the onion and sauté it for 5 minutes to soften it. Add a tablespoon of water to the pan if the onion starts to stick.
- Add the wine and tarragon stalks to the pan and bring it to a low simmer.
- Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes to infuse the tarragon flavor.
- Remove and discard the tarragon sprigs.
- *If your pasta water is ready, pour in the pasta as the rest will go quickly.
- Whisk in the plant milk.
- In a small cup, mix together the arrowroot, and ¼ cup of vegetable broth. Add this to the sauce and whisk to ensure that there are no lumps.
- Taste and add 1-2 tsp. finely chopped tarragon if desired. Add several turns of ground black pepper and a pinch of salt if desired.
- *Start your asparagus while the pasta finishes cooking. Whisk the sauce frequently and keep it on a low simmer until you are ready to serve.
- To serve, arrange the pasta on 4 plates and add the asparagus. Pour the sauce directly over.
- Serve with lemon wedges if desired.
- Nutritional information includes asparagus and pasta.
- I don’t recommend using dry tarragon, but if you do, you’ll want to use 3 Tbsp. dry for the simmering plus additional after you add the plant milk.
- This basic sauce can also be combined with cauliflower and cashews for a tarragon bechamel.
- Category: Main Courses
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: tarragon sauce