Raise the Salad Bar

Salads don't have to be skimpy, says a talented young chef who elevates them to main-course status using seafood, chicken, nuts, greens and herbs.
Growing up in a kosher household that was also hyper health-conscious “palate-numbing at times,” says Michael Leviton, chef and co-owner of Lumière, in West Newton, Massachusetts, and an F&W Best New Chef 2000. But during the summer, Leviton’s mother rescued her family from culinary monotony by using amazing produce to create delicious vegetable salads that met the family’s dietary restrictions. Leviton’s time at San Francisco’s groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One only strengthened his conviction that salads need not be limited to greens or to the starter and side categories. For Leviton, summertime means salads that are light and crisp but substantial enough to serve as a meal. Some of the four recipes that follow, like his lobster and green bean salad in a bright tarragon dressing, would not pass muster with his kosher mom, but they are delicious, thanks to his innovative combinations of fish, chicken, nuts, greens and herbs, and his clean and assertive dressings. The result: easy, satisfying, refreshing lunches and dinners that are anything but palate-numbing.

—Lily Barberio