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Salmon Salad

July 18, 1996|BEV BENNETT

Under the influence of both Southeast Asian cookery and Nouvelle Cuisine, a lot of restaurant chefs have been combining meat with salad into a beautiful entree. One dinner might feature a mound of greens with grilled chicken; another might start with a base of sauteed red and green peppers in a vinaigrette dressing with a side of grilled sausage.

It's refreshing and easy. Rather than deciding that an elegant lunch have a main dish and separate salad, the two are served together.

Charles Weber, a very talented Chicago chef, gave me a recipe for what I consider the most delicious example of the salad meal. It's my summer ritual to celebrate my flourishing basil patch.

Weber's directions, which I have simplified, call for covering a salmon fillet with basil leaves, then sauteing the fish. It becomes permeated with a delicate anise flavor. The base of baby greens, generously mixed with more basil and dressed with a simple oil, Sherry vinegar and shallot combination is a great match for the salmon.

Now that salad days are here, I recommend the following basil salad with baby greens.

BASIL SALMON WITH BABY GREENS

1 (10-ounce) salmon fillet

8 to 10 basil leaves

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground white pepper

3 cups baby field greens

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup minced shallots

1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar

Remove all bones from salmon. Arrange basil leaves on flesh side of fish.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until very hot in medium skillet. Add salmon, basil-side down, and cook over medium-high heat 6 minutes. Gently turn fish over and cook second side until cooked through, 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

On serving plate, combine field greens, basil and shallots. Stir together remaining 2 tablespoons oil and vinegar in cup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over greens. Cut salmon into 2 serving portions. Arrange over greens.

Makes 2 servings.

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