A sweet or pungent salad that can be served as a fresh first course, a refreshing side dish, or as a palate cleanser with a cheese course.
Soft Herb Salad
Especially energizing when served alongside heavy winter feasts. The beauty of this herb salad is not just how nice it looks, but also its versatility. It can be as sweet or as pungent as you like, served in a big heap as a fresh first course, or a small pile as a refreshing side dish, or as a palate cleanser with a cheese course. It is especially energizing when served alongside heavy winter feasts. The leaf-green herbs, pink peppercorns and buttery golden almonds perk up the browns of roasts and braises. Picking the herbs and cleaning them is a finicky task, but can be done a day or two before.
For the loosely packed greens:
- 2 cups cilantro leaves
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 cup small dill sprigs
- 1 cup basil or mint leaves
- 1 cup arugula leaves
- 2 cups purslane, mâche or hearts of Boston lettuce leaves
For the dressing:
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp red chile flakes or 1/2 tsp crushed pink peppercorns (optional)
- 3 tbsp lemon juice, more to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil, more to taste
- Up to a day before serving, wash the herbs and greens: Fill a large bowl or clean sink with plenty of cold water. Immerse the leaves, swish around to loosen any dirt, then gently lift out. Dry in a salad spinner or by spreading them on clean kitchen towels. (If working ahead, refrigerate the dry leaves in sealed plastic bags or containers. Add a paper towel to each bag to absorb excess water.)
- Melt butter in a frying pan until it sizzles. Add almonds. Sauté over low heat, until the almonds are golden and the butter is browned. Lift out almonds and drain on paper towels, reserving butter. (Butter can be kept for 1 day. Melt and cool again before assembling salad.)
- When ready to serve, place greens in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, chile flakes, almonds, cooking butter, lemon juice and olive oil. Toss gently and season to taste, then serve immediately.
- Ingredient Substitution Guide