Simple Art of Cooking: Spring Into Easy, Warm Salads

So much of what seems to be new in the culinary scheme of things has its roots in history. Warm herbed chicken or veal with salad topping, a popular Italian restaurant offering appears in early Italian manuscripts. Warm duck salads are classic to the cuisine of Southwestern France and Chinese stir-fried vegetables, with their great diversity of ingredients, can be considered a hot salad in a wok.

Wherever the inspiration came from, I love the idea of warm salads. They can move easily into different parts of the meal. When sprightly spring greens are the base for warm, crisp and buttery Potatoes Anna an elegant first course is offered; sautéed, then oven-crisped, salmon over herbal greens with tangy shallot vinaigrette makes the perfect guest luncheon course. Carefully read the steps for preparing either salad as several steps of preparation can be done up to one day ahead.

Orchestration and planning ahead is the key to preparing successful and satisfying new warm salads.

GREEN SALAD WITH WARM POTATOES ANNA
This composed green salad topped with a golden disk of crisp, thinly sliced potatoes makes an elegant first course.

Serves 6

For the salad
6 cups mixed salad greens such as red leaf, oak lettuce, arugula, watercress, mache
2 to 3 shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
5 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For potatoes Anna
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 pounds russet potatoes
Kosher salt

1. Wash each lettuce separately, spin-dry and carefully roll up in paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Put into reclosable plastic bags and refrigerate. They will remain fresh and crisp for several hours or overnight.

2. Prepare vinaigrette: Place shallots in a mixing bowl. Add vinegar, salt and pepper and stir to mix. Drizzle in oil while stirring with a fork or whisk until mixture is homogeneous. Taste to adjust seasoning.

Preheat oven to 450°.

3. Soften half the butter and, with back of spoon or fingertips, spread six 3” circles on a buttered cookie sheet. Melt remaining butter in a saucepan and set aside.

4. Peel the potatoes, then rinse and pat dry with paper toweling. Slice into rounds about 1/16” thick. Arrange potatoes in neat, overlapping circles on the buttered cookie sheet and press down firmly. Drizzle the remaining butter over each circle of potatoes and sprinkle lightly with salt.

5. Place in preheated oven and bake about 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are crisp and golden brown.

6. About five minutes before the potatoes are done, toss the greens with the vinaigrette until well coated. Divide the greens on six salad plates. With a metal spatula, carefully loosen the bottom of the potatoes and arrange over the greens. Serve immediately.

WARM SALMON SALAD 

Serves 6 

For the greens
6 cups mixed greens of radicchio, endive, romaine, watercress, etc.
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped tarragon leaves or parsley sprigs for garnish

For the vinaigrette 
2 to 3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
2 to 3 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
7 to 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt to finish

For the salmon
6–4 oz. boneless salmon fillets with skin (about 2 lbs.)
2 to 3 shallots, finely chopped
10 to 12 large basil leaves, stacked, rolled and julienned
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1. Wash greens separately, spin dry and carefully roll in paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Put into reclosable plastic bags and refrigerate.

2. Prepare vinaigrette: Put chopped shallots, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in oil until mixture is homogenous. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary.

3. With a sharp knife, score salmon skin on the diagonal. Repeat cutting in opposite direction to create a crosshatch effect. Rinse fish, pat dry with paper towels and put into a bowl. Mix shallots, basil and soy in a separate bowl and whisk in 2 tablespoons oil. Pour over fillets. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to several hours ahead

Preheat oven to 375°.

4. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Put in salmon fillets skin side down and sauté about 5 minutes to crisp the skin (the flesh should still be pink).

5. Meanwhile, mix salad greens with the vinaigrette and gently toss to mix. Divide equally and arrange on six dinner plates.

6. Transfer salmon to preheated oven to crisp for 1 to 2 minutes then place each fillet over greens. Sprinkle with a dash of sea salt to finish, garnish with herbs, if desired, and serve.

Read more Simple Art of Cooking recipes.

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