May 2, 2011

Salmon and asparagus with a creamy tarragon sauce

Serving plate with salmon and asparagus topped with creamy tarragon sauce.

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables and tarragon is swiftly becoming one of my favorite herbs. 

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Tarragon was pretty unfamiliar to me until a few years ago when I first had it in a chicken salad. From then on, I was hooked on this herb and it is a perfect match with asparagus and salmon. 

This sauce was something I threw together with some items I had on hand and it turned out very nicely. I also served a simple pasta salad with this meal that was just cooked orzo tossed with extra virgin olive oil, halved baby tomatoes, lemon zest, and some salt and pepper. 

It was really fresh and bright and accompanied the rich salmon and creamy sauce quite well (plus the lemon juice goes in the sauce). I made this dish for two, but you can cook up more fish and asparagus as needed.  

Salmon and asparagus with creamy tarragon sauce
2 salmon fillets
about 1/2 to 3/4 lb asparagus
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium shallot, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth 
juice of 1 lemon
1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
about 1/4 cup cream or half and half
2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped tarragon

For this meal, I cooked my asparagus by blanching them in boiling water (I like them to retain some of their texture and crunch). But you can certainly stream, grill, or roast your asparagus - please use whatever is your preferred method of cooking and cook the asparagus to your preferred doneness. The same goes for the salmon. I cooked mine in a skillet with just some salt, pepper, and olive oil. You can certainly grill or bake your salmon if you prefer until it is cooked through and flaky. The point is to have cooked salmon and asparagus to drizzle with the sauce. While they are cooking, make the sauce:

In a large skillet, warm the butter over medium heat until it is melted. Add the shallots and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the white wine and lemon juice and stir. Add the dijon mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk together. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let the sauce cook and reduce on simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for a few minutes. This is to keep the cream from curdling when it hits the heat and acid in the pan.

When the sauce has cooled slightly, add the cream and whisk well. Place the skillet back on the stove on simmer. Heat until it is just hot (do not boil), whisking often. Stir in the tarragon and taste for seasoning.

Serve the sauce over the salmon and asparagus. 

Salmon and aspagus with creamy tarragon sauce with a size of orzo.

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