Spring Vegetable Jumble with Lemon-Tarragon Butter

May  9, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

To be perfectly honest, when I think about spring, this is what popped into my mind. (Well, this and flowering crabapple trees.) I used the spring vegetables I had on hand, but you can adapt this mélange to include pretty much any of your preferred young vegetables (baby artichoke hearts, ramps, baby fennel), cooking each until they're just tender. I'm sure it would also be lovely with some sautéed spring mushrooms thrown in. —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Fiveandspice is a renegade nutritionist and butter-lover.
WHAT: A mountain of vegetables doused in butter and tarragon.
HOW: Boil a variety of spring vegetables (radishes, carrots, new potatoes, asparagus) until just tender. Toss with sautéed leeks, English peas, and a creamy sauce made from a reduction of lemon juice, tarragon, and butter.
WHY WE LOVE IT: If new potatoes were to host a cocktail party for their young vegetable friends, this is what it would look like. Playful, elegant, and beautiful (did we mention delicious?), it borrows the simplicity of a raw vegetable dipped in butter and salt to create an unforgettable springtime meal that lets the vegetables speak for themselves. —The Editors

  • Serves 4
  • For the vegetables:
  • 8 small fingerling or new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
  • 8 radishes, tops removed except for a 1/4 inch of stem, cleaned, and halved
  • 8 baby carrots (actual baby carrots, not those bagged ones that are pieces of big carrots), halved, or 1 larger carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, stems removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Olive oil
  • 1 young leek, white and light green portions only, cleaned well and cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup English peas (fresh, if possible)
  • Lemon-Tarragon Butter (recipe below)
  • Sea salt and white pepper, to taste
  • Fresh tarragon, to garnish (optional)
  • For the Lemon-Tarragon Butter:
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
In This Recipe
  1. For the vegetables:
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and lower heat to a low boil. After about 3 minutes, add the radishes and carrots. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are slightly tender. Add in the asparagus and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Drain the vegetables and run under cold water to stop them from cooking further. Spread them out onto a clean towel or baking sheet to hang out while you sauté the leek.
  3. In a large sautée pan, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced leek and cook until softened. Add the potatoes, radishes, carrots, asparagus, and peas to the pan.
  4. Stir in the Lemon-Tarragon Butter (recipe below), stirring to coat the vegetables well. Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, until everything is just reheated. Season to taste with salt and white pepper and serve warm. Garnish with a bit more minced tarragon if desired.
  1. For the Lemon-Tarragon Butter:
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the shallot and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook for a couple of minutes, until the juice is approximately reduced by half.
  3. Stir in the cream and reduce to a simmer for 1 minute. Then, turn down the stove to the lowest possible heat. Stir in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly as it melts and adding each one as the one before it disappears. Take off the heat and stir in the tarragon. Use immediately with the spring vegetables or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.