The sun moves over the Saturday Pico farmers' market in Santa Monica, Calif., filtering through the canopy that protects the delicate herbs and baby lettuces at the Kenter Canyon Farms stall.
The salad of market lettuces that we take for granted on the menu these days, an edible bouquet that tastes as good as it looks, effectively began in owner Andrea Crawford's garden.
To be more accurate, Alice Waters' garden.
Twenty-six years ago, Crawford began growing lettuces and herbs for Chez Panisse, literally in Waters' backyard. This simple recipe marries the same kind of tender lettuces with smoked salmon to elegant effect.
SMOKED SALMON, MESCLUN SALAD WITH HERBED TOAST
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup best-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup each: chives, fresh dill, fresh mint, and edible flowers (nasturtiums or calendulas)
2/3 cup creme fraiche
Grated zest of 1 lemon
4 large slices pumpernickel bread, cut 1/2 -inch thick on a diagonal
16 thin slices of smoked salmon, about 1 pound
5 ounces (about 4 cups) mesclun
In a large bowl, whisk together cider vinegar, honey, olive oil, mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Mince together the chives, dill, mint and edible flowers until they resemble fine confetti.
Reserve one-eighth cup of the mixture and stir together the rest in a medium bowl with the creme fraiche and lemon zest. Set aside. Toast the bread in a toaster until slightly crisp, cut in half diagonally and spread with the herbed creme fraiche.
Arrange four slices of smoked salmon in a single layer on each of four large plates. From the bowl of dressing, reserve two tablespoons and set aside.
Add the mesclun to the bowl of dressing and toss to combine. Pile one-fourth of the salad on top of the salmon on each plate, being sure to get a little height to the salad. Stand two toasts against the salad. Sprinkle the reserved herb confetti and drizzle the reserved dressing around the salmon.
Per serving: 394 calories, 24 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 27 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 2,470 milligrams sodium.
Amy Scattergood writes for the Los Angeles Times, which provided the recipe analysis.