LAMB'S LETTUCE, CRÈME FRAÎCHE, LEMON & CHIVE SALAD
A humble salad indeed. With six ingredients, two of them salt & pepper, this delightful plate of tender greens pairs perfectly with SUMMER SALMON with STRAWBERRY, CUCUMBER & MINT RELISH. When the menu needs some background noise and no competition, this is a go to salad. It doesn't compete with the main event and nonetheless tastes delicious and looks extraordinary in its simplicity. Warmed until pourable, the crème frâiche provides a silky coat for the mâche. For Easter brunch, set the dressing in the center of a crown of lamb lettuce with scattered chives (which are also added to the dressing). Undressed, the lettuce will maintain its succulent texture for a few hours. Chill the serving plate and the salad's integrity will be kept in check even longer.
Just when it seems too many chives and cracked black pepper have been added, keep snipping and grinding. With so few ingredients, it is important that each flavor is appreciated and distinguishable. The dressing may be made two hours in advance.
1 clam shell lamb's lettuce (a.k.a. mâche)
1/2 cup créme frâiche
1 lemon, finely zested
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
20 long chives
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground cracked black pepper
3 slices lemon, paper thin & halved for garnish
1. Put the lettuce in a large salad bowl and reserve.
2. In a small pan on low heat, combine the crème fraîche, zest, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until melted.
3. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
4. Grind 1 teaspoon black pepper into the pan and taste for seasoning (the pepper should not be background noise, but should not overpower the dressing, either).
5. Add a small amount of the dressing to the bowl with the lettuce and toss until just barely coated--taste to make certain the salad is dressed sufficiently.
6. With a pair of scissors, snip the bunch of chives directly onto the salad. Toss again and taste.
7. Add more chives, salt, and pepper as needed. Plate individually, or on a SERVING PLATTER and garnish with lemon slices.
SERVES 4 TO 6