Endive Caesar Salad with Tarragon

Endive Caesar Salad with Tarragon
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About This Recipe

In the heart of California's wine country, where vineyards sprawl as far as the eye can see, the culinary scene is as diverse and rich as the soil. Here in Napa Valley, we're not only blessed with world-class wines but also fresh, local ingredients that make our dishes stand out. One of those delicacies that often gets overlooked is the Belgian endive. This slightly bitter leafy vegetable becomes a palate cleanser, especially when turned into an endive salad, a light and refreshing dish that is perfect for our balmy California weather.

Now, everyone is familiar with the classic Caesar salad. Its creamy, umami-packed dressing is something that resonates with most salad enthusiasts. But how about elevating it by adding a twist? Enter the Endive Caesar Salad with Tarragon. The caesar dressing recipe, which we'll dive into in a bit, combines the richness of anchovies and parmesan with the aromatic freshness of tarragon herb. This combination creates a harmonious blend that dances on the palate.

Tarragon, with its subtle anise flavor, is an herb that is often underutilized. However, its licorice-like essence pairs wonderfully with the creamy, homemade Caesar dressing. When looking for a Caesar salad dressing recipe, it's essential to find one that balances creaminess with acidity, and this is where the tarragon plays a crucial role. It cuts through the richness, providing a refreshing note that makes each bite moreish.

Now, let's talk about the star of the show, the Belgian endive. Unlike other leafy greens, Belgian endives have a unique, slightly bitter taste that complements the tangy and creamy elements of a Caesar salad. They're crisp, they're fresh, and when sourced locally, they have an undeniable sweetness that's hard to find elsewhere.

When crafting this dish, I wanted to create something that represented Napa – a dish that speaks of our local produce, our love for fresh ingredients, and our deep-rooted connection to the wine country. And speaking of wine, let's dive into the exciting part – wine pairings.

Pairing this Endive Caesar Salad with Tarragon with wine can be a delightful experience. A safe bet is the Sauvignon Blanc from Frog's Leap Winery in Napa. Its herbaceous notes beautifully complement the tarragon and endive's slight bitterness. If you're leaning more towards a classic choice, a Chardonnay from Cakebread Cellars would be splendid. The buttery notes of this wine go hand in hand with the creamy dressing. And for the adventurous souls out there, a Vermentino from Ryme Cellars in Sonoma could be your ticket to a culinary roller coaster. Its slightly saline, mineral quality would enhance the anchovies in the salad while also playing up the freshness of the ingredients.

Being a Napa local, I always encourage visitors to explore both our wines and our culinary offerings. The beautiful synergy between food and wine here is something you won't find anywhere else. Whether you're dining in a high-end restaurant or enjoying a picnic amidst the vineyards, remember that Napa is not just about wine; it's about an experience – one that tantalizes all your senses.

If you're planning a visit to our valley, make sure to try the Endive Caesar Salad with Tarragon, and don't forget to pair it with one of our local wines. It's a journey of flavors that truly embodies the spirit of Napa Valley.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Belgian Endive

Belgian endive, often seen as the elegant cousin among leafy greens, stands out with its crisp texture and slightly bitter flavor. Originating from Belgium (as the name suggests), this unique vegetable brings a certain sophisticated flair to dishes. Packed with vitamins and minerals, Belgian endive not only adds a beautiful crunch to salads but also boasts numerous health benefits. When sourcing Belgian endive for your endive salad, opt for heads that are firm with pale yellow leaves. They are a testament to freshness and quality, ensuring that your dish will be nothing short of spectacular.

How to Perfectly Segment Citrus Fruits

One subtle yet essential step in the Caesar dressing recipe is the addition of fresh lemon juice. However, to elevate the aesthetics of your salad, you can also add beautiful citrus segments. Here's how:

  1. Choose a ripe citrus fruit, be it lemon, orange, or grapefruit.
  2. Using a sharp knife, slice off the top and bottom, allowing it to sit flat on your cutting board.
  3. Following the curve of the fruit, cut away the peel and the white pith.
  4. Holding the fruit in your hand, slice between the membranes to segment the citrus.
  5. Use these segments as garnish or mix them into your salad for a tangy surprise.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I use another green in place of Belgian endive? Yes, while Belgian endive is preferred for its unique taste and texture, you can also use radicchio or romaine lettuce as substitutes in your endive salad.
  2. I have a nut allergy. What can I replace the almonds with? If nuts are an issue, feel free to omit them entirely. Alternatively, toasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds make an excellent crunchy replacement.
  3. How long does the homemade Caesar dressing last? The Caesar salad dressing recipe yields a dressing that can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
  4. I can't find fresh tarragon. Can I use dried tarragon instead? Fresh tarragon is ideal for its vibrant flavor. However, if unavailable, dried tarragon can be used. Remember, dried herbs are more potent, so adjust the quantity to about a third of the recommended fresh amount.
  5. What kitchen tools do I need for this recipe? A sharp knife, a cutting board, a mixing bowl, and a whisk or blender for the Caesar dressing recipe should suffice.

Tips for Success

  1. Dress to Impress: Always dress your salad just before serving to maintain the crispness of the greens. Overly soaked leaves can turn soggy quickly.
  2. Cheese Choices: While Parmesan is a classic choice for Caesar dressing, don't hesitate to experiment with aged Asiago or Pecorino Romano for a different flavor profile.
  3. Wine and Dine: Remember, wine pairing elevates the dining experience. Whether it's a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a richer Chardonnay, choose a wine that complements the salad's flavors and your personal palate.

Recipe Overview

Endive Caesar Salad with Tarragon
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 4 large Belgian endives, trimmed and leaves separated
  • 1 cup croutons, preferably sourdough
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the anchovy fillets, garlic, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, continuously whisking to form an emulsion. Once emulsified, stir in the chopped tarragon. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Add the endive leaves to the bowl and gently toss them with the dressing until well coated.
  4. Transfer the dressed endive leaves to a serving platter or individual plates. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and top with croutons.
  5. Garnish with extra tarragon leaves, if desired, and serve immediately.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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