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A savory way to serve salmon; Delicious dressing and special salad make this a can't-miss meal

The goal is to cook this fish to a medium doneness (uniformly light pink) so that its carryover cooking leaves it just a touch pink after cooling. Leave the skin on the salmon before poaching; it helps the fish hold together during cooking and is easy enough to remove before serving.

Serve with Warm New Potato and Asparagus Salad (recipe below). You can do much of the slicing and dicing for the salad ahead of time. Then, boil the vegetables just before guests arrive so the potatoes are warm when served. Though you might be tempted to cook the asparagus and potatoes together, blanch the green spears separately to set their color and crisp-tender texture.

Make ahead: The salmon needs to be poached and refrigerated at least 4 hours and up to a day in advance. The dressing can be made ahead. The asparagus can be cooked a day in advance, then drained, rolled up in a kitchen towel and refrigerated in a plastic bag. (From food writer Tony Rosenfeld.)

>Cold Poached Salmon with Lemon-Tarragon Dressing

For the salmon

4 pounds skin-on salmon fillets, preferably center-cut, in 2 large pieces

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the poaching liquid

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more for the poaching liquid

2 cups dry white wine

6 cups cold water

2 shallots (2 to 2 1/2 ounces total), cut into thin slices

Leaves from 1 small bunch (0.75 ounces; 1 clamshell pack) fresh tarragon, chopped (3 tablespoons)

For the dressing

1 cup creme fraiche

Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon (1 tablespoon zest, 1/4 cup juice), plus 1 lemon cut into thin wheels for optional garnish

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1/4 cup water, or more as needed

1 large shallot (3 to 3 1/2 ounces), cut into small dice (about 1/4 cup)

Leaves from 1 small bunch (0.75 ounces; 1 clamshell pack) fresh tarragon, chopped (3 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salmon: Sprinkle the salmon generously and evenly with the salt and pepper.

Pour the wine and water into a large, wide pot. Stir in the shallot, tarragon and 1 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Heat over medium-high heat.

Once the poaching liquid is barely bubbling at the edges, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 minutes, until the shallots become tender. Gently lower one of the salmon pieces, skin side down, into the poaching liquid. Cook uncovered for about 4 minutes or until the salmon is mostly cooked through. It should have just a little give when lightly pressed (or check by prying open a thicker piece with the tip of a paring knife; the interior should have just a little of that bright-orange, glossy sheen). Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining salmon. Let the salmon cool to room temperature. Discard the poaching liquid, reserving some of the drained shallot rings and tarragon to scatter over the salmon, if desired. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day in advance.

For the dressing: Combine the creme fraiche with half of the lemon juice, plus the lemon zest, mustard and water in a blender or food processor; blend so the mixture becomes slightly loose, adding water as needed; the sauce should be barely pourable. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the shallot, tarragon and salt and pepper. Taste, then add as much of the remaining lemon juice as you'd like; adjust the seasoning as needed.

When ready to serve, discard the skin from the chilled salmon fillets. If necessary, use a spoon to scrape off any dark bloodlines.

If desired, arrange the lemon wheels (slices) across a serving platter. Top with the chilled salmon fillets, skinned sides down. Serve drizzled with the creme fraiche dressing.

Per serving (based on 12, with the dressing) with dressing: 300 calories, 31g protein, 3g carbohydrates, 18g fat, 7g saturated fat, 100mg cholesterol, 290mg sodium, no dietary fiber, nosugar.


Warm New Potato and Asparagus Salad


1 1/2 pounds asparagus (about 1 1/2 bunches), ends snapped off and discarded, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 pounds small new potatoes (preferably baby Yukon Gold), cut into bite-size pieces (halved or quartered, depending on their size)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup finely diced red onion (about 1/2 onion)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish

1 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (use the large holes on a box grater), plus 1/4 cup for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus pieces and cook until they turn bright green and become crisp-tender, 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on the thickness of the spears. Immediately drain under cold running water, tossing gently, until the asparagus is at room temperature.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by about 2 inches. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the liquid is barely bubbling; cover and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tines of a fork, about 3 minutes. Drain well in a colander and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Add the vinegar to the warm potatoes and stir to combine; then add the oil, onion, mint, thyme, cheese and asparagus, and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining mint, thyme and cheese, and serve.

Makes 10 to 12 side-dish servings.

Per serving (based on 12): 200 calories, 7g protein, 23g carbohydrates, 8g fat, 3g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 3g dietary fiber, 1g sugar.