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Warm salads are a bistro mainstay, sustaining enough to satisfy the soul, yet light enough not to smother the appetite for the rest of the meal. Salad ingredients can be tossed together in a pan with hot dressing over heat until they wilt, or they can be set on plates and have a hot dressing or hot ingredients poured over them. The best warm salads are made with hearty greens; delicate little lettuces would loose their moisture and freshness. Cabbage, frisee, and vegetables such as beets or potatoes are all good; and a vinaigrette-tossed mixture of baby greens is an excellent base for anything hot, such as grilled artichoke hearts or that bistro classic, hot goat cheese. In fact, warmed salads with any of the wide variety of goat cheeses and blue cheeses are a bistro classic, adding blasts of big flavor in each tiny nugget that melts delicately when the warm ingredients are added. Young asparagus stalks and green beans, bits of sweet juicy cherry tomatoes, and handfuls of herbs are often tossed into warm salads at the last minute for fragrant freshness. The contrast between fresh raw greens, tangy goat cheese, and crisply browned potatoes is marvelous; in recent years Ive found variations and variations on this theme in bistros around France. A scattering of black olives adds a jaunty accent, and the goat cheese melts seductively on the salad greens when the hot potato cakes are added. Serve with a crisp Sancerre or a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire. Cook the potatoes in boiling water until they are halfway tender, about 15 minutes. The potatoes should be still slightly crunchy. Rinse in cold water, then shred or grate using the large rasps of a grater or in a food processor. Most of the peel should slip off in the process; ignore any that doesnt and discard the peel that does. Season the potato shreds with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy cast-iron or nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat and spoon in mounds of the potato mixture, pressing them down as they brown, until the bottoms of the pancakes are golden brown, adding more butter if needed. Turn and cook the second side until the cakes are crisp-edged and browned. Meanwhile, combine the greens with the chervil, chives, parsley, and shallot, then dress with the olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle the top of the salad with the goat cheese and olives. When the potato pancakes are cooked through, place them on the dressed salad leaves. Serve right away. Excerpt from THE VEGETARIAN BISTRO, copyright ? 1997 by Marlena Spieler. Reprinted with permission of Chronicle Books. Formatted for you by: Bill Webster Posted to MC-Recipe Digest V1 #812 by Bill Webster
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