Since our arrival in Paris last week, my husband and I have eaten with little attention to calories. We’ve swooned over slices of silken-smooth foie gras and rich, cream-laden soups. We’ve sampled perfectly roasted duck, fork-tender braised lamb, and tried cheeses from every corner of France. And, we’ve finished meals with decadent desserts, including the French New Year’s favorite, gâteau des rois (the kings’ cake). After these indulgences, we needed to change to lighter fare, if only briefly! So, inspired by the many green grocers on our street, I made a bountiful main course salad served with pan-seared salmon fillets.
For the salad I chose a trio of bitter greens, including radicchio, frisée, and Belgian endive, and balanced them with some milder mixed lettuces. Slices from a juicy pear added a sweet note, crumbled goat cheese a salty accent, and walnuts a bit of crunch.
Thick salmon fillet slices, marinated in the same lemon dressing used for the salad and then quickly pan seared, made a colorful complement.
This meal, which took less than 40 minutes from start to finish to prepare, was a big winner with my occasionally picky spouse. He’s not a fan of salmon, and rarely orders salad as a main course, but he loved this combination. I saw him smiling as he spooned seconds onto his plate. This recipe serves two, but can be easily doubled for four.
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Pan-Seared Salmon with Winter Salad of Bitter Greens, Walnuts, Crumbled Chèvre
Lemon Shallot Dressing
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 salmon fillets, 5 to 6 ounces each and 1-inch thick
l /2 Belgian endive
1/ 2 large ripe, but not mushy, pear (Bartlett work well)
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small head radicchio, torn into bite-sized pieces
2 generous cups frisée torn into bite-sized pieces (See market note.)
2 generous cups mixed greens such as mesclun or baby romaine
2 oz firm goat cheese, broken into small pieces
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (see cooking tip)
2 small lemon wedges, optional
1. For dressing, whisk together lemon juice, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a medium nonreactive bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the shallots. (Dressing can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature, and whisk well before using.)
2. Place salmon fillets in a shallow glass or ceramic dish and pour 2 tablespoons of the dressing over them, turning to coat well. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes or more while you prepare the salad.
3. Cut the Belgian endive, crosswise, into 1/ 2-inch wide slices, and place in a salad bowl. Core the pear and slice thinly lengthwise. Add to salad bowl and toss with 2 more tablespoons of the dressing; marinate the endive and pears while you cook the salmon.
4. Heat butter and oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat until quite hot. Then remove salmon from marinade and add, flesh sides down, to the pan. Sauté until nicely browned 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook on other side, 3 minutes or more until salmon is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Cover while you assemble the salad.
5. Add radicchio, frisée, and mixed greens to the salad bowl and toss with remaining dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Mound the salad on two dinner plates, and arrange a salmon fillet along side each serving. Sprinkle salad and salmon with goat cheese and walnuts. If desired, squeeze a lemon wedge over each fillet. Serves 2
Market note: Frisée (pronounced “freezay”) is a member of the chicory family. Its slim, lacy leaves range in color from pale yellow to green and have a slightly bitter taste. Also known as curly endive, frisee is available in many groceries in the produce section. Heads range in size from 4 to 5 ounces to larger.
Cooking tip: To toast walnuts, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and place in a preheated 350° F oven until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully so nuts do not burn. Remove and cool.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2019