Boston Greens with Tarragon Buttermilk Dressing, Red Pears, and Toasted Hazelnuts

By • November 13, 2009 31 Comments

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Author Notes: Coquette Cafe in MKE has a wonderful green salad with buttermilk and hazelnuts. I tried to recreate a version at home with the addition of tarragon and shallots in the dressing, sliced red pears beneath, and crunchy pink sea salt on top (this may be my favorite part).Jennifer Ann

Food52 Review: What's great about this salad is that it combines the robust flavors of fall -- pears and hazelnuts -- with an elegant salad green -- Boston lettuce -- and a succinct and tangy buttermilk dressing. So when you eat it, there are rich bits followed by bright bits and flashes of sweetness, and the whole thing is a delight to eat. Use two small heads of lettuce and small pears. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4

Fresh Tarragon Buttermilk Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1.5 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1.5 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • freshly ground black pepper (4-5 turns on the mill - finest setting)
  • salt (3-4 turns on the mill - finest setting)
  1. Whisk together buttermilk and mayonnaise until smooth; whisk in olive oil until well incorporated; add shallot, tarragon, salt and pepper.

Hazelnut Preparation and Salad Assembly

  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • 3 red pears
  • 2 heads of Boston lettuce, washed and torn into medium-large sized pieces
  • coarse pink or red sea salt (such as Alaea Hawaiian)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Roast hazelnuts in a single layer in a 350 oven for about 10 minutes, or until they start to lightly brown; remove from oven, and roll hazelnuts in dish towel to remove the papery skins; allow hazelnuts to cool, then coarsely chop and set aside
  2. Thinly slice the pears, being sure to keep a good sliver of the red peel on each slice; arrange the pears in a single layer on 4 salad plates, with the peel edges facing outward
  3. Toss the lettuce in about half the dressing, adding more, as necessary, to nicely coat all pieces; pile the lettuce in a tall mound on top of the pears (be sure to keep the red pear peals visible)
  4. Top each salad with freshly ground pepper, a small handful of the toasted hazelnuts, and a little pinch of the crunchy sea salt.

More Great Recipes: Fruit|Vegetables|Salads

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Comments (31) Questions (0)


about 2 years ago Sylvia Parks

I was looking for a buttermilk tarragon recipe to make tarragon chicken salad and discovered your website. Wow! Lots of very appealing recipes here and I look forward to trying some more. The dressing made a very tasty chicken salad. I have to keep my fat intake pretty low, so I substituted fat free mayo for the regular. Since the fat free is sweeter tasting that regular, I added a tsp of vinegar to even it out. Next time, I will probably use lemon juice, but didn't have any lemons on hand. I doubled the recipe so I would have some left to try on an actual salad. Any suggestions for a summer version of this salad since pears aren't in season now? Thanks!


over 2 years ago Hark

Fantastic recipe, and really easy. I added some bacon, because that makes (almost) everything better!


over 3 years ago koechin

i could taste these flavors as i read the recipe so of course i had to make it. served it with pork tenderloin and roasted butternut squash, perfect flavor combinations, thanks for this yummy salad.


over 3 years ago Jennifer Ann

Thank you, Koechin! I am so happy you enjoyed it. (love your picture with the little one:))


over 3 years ago QueenOfGreen

Oh wow! Even with my less-than-stellar pears, this salad is AMAZING! Thank you!


over 4 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oooh! Making this today!


over 4 years ago Jennifer Ann

I hope you enjoy the salad!


almost 5 years ago hayley

How many servings does this make? Thanks!


almost 5 years ago Jennifer Ann

4 as a first salad course. Hope you have a chance to give it a try!


almost 5 years ago hayley

Tried it and loved it. Thanks!


almost 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

What a simple, elegant salad! And to my mind, simple + elegant = perfect. I made this last night, when I noticed that my tarragon needed trimming, and I had no other special plans for the evening's salad. I used a Bartlett because that was all I had on hand, and lightly toasted walnuts because I had no hazelnuts, and added a diced Persian cucumber because I wanted a bit more crunch. Utterly delicious!! I'm glad to have found this, which I am certain to be making again! ;o)


almost 5 years ago Jennifer Ann

AJ, I am happy that you tried the recipe, and really so pleased that you liked it! Love your ad hoc substitutions and additions~


about 5 years ago Midge

So many of my favorite ingredients. Saving this for fall. Love Coquette Cafe (and MKE in general).


almost 5 years ago Jennifer Ann

so happy you know about our lovely little hamlet! send me a note before your next visit - lots of new secret places to share :)


about 5 years ago NakedBeet

I love everything about this.


about 5 years ago Jennifer Ann

Thanks NB! I hope you find a chance to try it


almost 6 years ago Mammamia

Plan to make this for this year's Thanksgiving salad. It offers simple delicious flavors.


almost 6 years ago LLoquet

I love the simplicity of his salad. It would be great for Thanksgiving when you have a lot of competing flavors. Fresh, bright, elegant, delicious!


almost 6 years ago glasgow

can't wait to try this one out!


almost 6 years ago junebug

I tried this last night and was underwhelmed. It wanted something more - prosciutto or dried cranberries were some of the suggestions at our table. There wasn't enough contrast in the flavors. Not a bad salad, just not vote-worthy.


almost 6 years ago SunnySideUp (lesley829)

boston lettuce is my favorite. nice combination!


almost 6 years ago ENunn

The dressing did it for me. Lovely.


almost 6 years ago Franck

fresh, and easy to make with easily available ingredients. the way to go. well done!


almost 6 years ago CattyA

This will take the place of the grapefruit and avocado on greens on my Thanksgiving table!


almost 6 years ago suschristine

I want to marry this woman!


almost 6 years ago lastnightsdinner

So hard to choose between two gorgeous Fall salads, but this recipe incorporates so many of my favorite flavors, I just had to give it my vote.


almost 6 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This one is a definitely on the menu for next week (probably Sunday evening, as our farmers' market is on Sunday mornings). I cannot wait to try it.