Warm Red Mullet and Artichoke Salad

Red mullet is shown to great advantage in this warm salad of diverse ingredients, which Maximin artfully arranged and served us as part of a springtime lunch. A highly prized Mediterranean fish, red mullet is occasionally available here, as is its unsung relative, goatfish (sometimes found in ethnic markets). In the absence of these elusive prizes, the salad can be made with red snapper.

Warm Red Mullet and Artichoke Salad
Red mullet is shown to great advantage in this warm salad of diverse ingredients.
Yield: serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 cups penne rigate
  • 8 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 baby artichokes, trimmed
  • 8 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 12 lb. cleaned squid, body sliced into rings; tentacles quartered
  • 4 (5-oz.) red mullets, cleaned, deboned, head and tail left on (or 2 10-oz. red snapper filets, cut in half crosswise)
  • 12 cup flour
  • 14 lb. parmigiano-reggiano
  • 12 fresh basil leaves
  • 8 fresh chives
  • 8 sprigs fresh chervil
  • 14 cup niçoise olives
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add penne. Cook 7–10 minutes. Drain, then dress with 1 tbsp. oil, all the vinegar, and salt and pepper; set aside.
  2. Halve artichokes lengthwise, then heat 2 tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add artichokes and garlic and brown on all sides, 5–7 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add 1 tbsp. oil to skillet, add squid, and cook, stirring until squid is firm, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper, then immediately remove from skillet and set aside.
  4. Wipe out skillet. Dredge fish in flour. Shake off excess, then season with salt and pepper. Heat 4 tbsp. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add fish and fry, 2–4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.
  5. To assemble, divide penne, artichokes, and squid evenly between 4 plates. Arrange fish on top and thinly shave parmigiano-reggiano over it. Garnish with basil, chives, chervil, and olives. Serve drizzled with additional olive oil if desired.