Last week some friends and I planned to dine out together, but on the day of our outing when the temperature started to soar, it occurred to me that a light supper was a better choice than a big meal in a restaurant.
Right away I knew what I wanted to serve as a main course. I remade some variations on a delicious salad I had sampled during my stay in Paris. At a well-known tea room called Mariage Freres, I had ordered a composed salad that included slices of smoked haddock, tender green beans and cherry tomatoes, all arranged on a bed of mixed greens and tossed in a flavorful vinaigrette. The dish had been refreshing yet satisfying on another extremely warm day.
Main-Course Salad of Smoked Trout, Asparagus and Tomatoes
Makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
6 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound small red-skin potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
3/4 pound slim asparagus (with tough ends cut off) or green beans (with ends trimmed), cut into 2-inch pieces
8 cups cleaned salad greens, such as red and green oak leaf lettuce (about 1 head of each)
12 sweet grape or medium cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3/4 pound smoked trout (skin removed), cut into 2-inch pieces
To prepare dressing, place vinegar, mustard, salt and tarragon in small nonreactive bowl. Whisk in olive oil. (Dressing can be made 2 hours ahead. Either cover and refrigerate and bring to room temperature before using, or cover and leave at cool room temperature. Whisk well before using.)
To prepare salad, bring large pot of slightly salted water to boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender but not too soft, 12 to 15 minutes, depending on size of potatoes. Remove with slotted spoon to drain.
In same pot, cook asparagus (or beans) until just tender. Slim asparagus will take 3 to 4 minutes (beans about 8 minutes). Drain under cold running water to set color. Pat dry and place asparagus in large mixing bowl. Pat potatoes dry and cut into 1/2 -inch wedges and add to bowl. (Vegetables can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and leave at cool room temperature.)
When ready to serve, place lettuce in large mixing bowl and toss with half of dressing. Taste and add more salt if needed. Divide greens among 4 dinner plates. Add halved tomatoes and trout pieces to vegetables and toss gently with remaining dressing. Taste and add more salt if needed. Arrange vegetables and fish in border around greens on each plate.