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Herb Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette Recipe


King Louis the XVI

Among the many foods Jefferson brought back to the US from Europe are Italian olive oil (he referred to the olive tree as “the richest gift of heaven”), French mustard (Maille being his brand of choice) and tarragon. An avid gardener, Thomas Jefferson had a passion for vegetables and often attributed his long life to them. Though he cannot be called a vegetarian in the modern sense of the word, in his time he consumed an unusually moderate amount of meat and a large variety and quantity of vegetables. His granddaughter, Ellen W. Coolidge, once said, “The little meat he took seemed mostly as a seasoning for his vegetables.”   

Growing and eating a wide variety of vegetables among the higher classes was a trend started at Versailles by Louis XIV. — Maite Gomez-Réjon.

Adapted from the ArtBites tour of The Metropolitan Musuem of Art.

*Note: Pictured is one of the works of art that inspired this recipe.


For the greens:

  • 1 head Boston lettuce, chopped
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, chopped
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce, chopped
  • 1 radicchio, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 12 chives, chopped

For the vinaigrette:

  • 2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


For the greens:

Wash the all of the greens and pat dry.

For the vinaigrette:

Combine the vinegar, garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Let stand for about 15 minutes, then whisk in mustard and olive oil until thick and smooth. Add pepper to taste.

Dip in a leaf, taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Pour the vinaigrette over the greens, toss and serve.


Click here to see the Eating Through the Ages: A Museum and Culinary Tour story.