Simple but inventive salads are a signature at Ned Ludd restaurant in Portland, and chef Jason French brings that same knack to this fresh salad for his beach menu. For an element of surprise, he spreads basil purée on the plate, rather than tossing it with the other ingredients. This also helps keep the salad crisp.
3/4 cup plus 5 to 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 qt. loosely packed fresh basil leaves (4 oz.)
About 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
5 or 6 Persian cucumbers or 1 1/2 English cucumbers, cut into chunks
5 small heads Little Gem* lettuce or 3 hearts of romaine, torn into pieces
About 2 tbsp. lemon juice
10 ounce fresh goat cheese
How to Make It
Put 3/4 cup oil in a blender, add a few basil leaves, and pulse to blend. Continue pulsing as you add more leaves and 1 small ice cube (it helps move the leaves around); blend until mixture is smooth. Season with about 1 tsp. salt.
Put cucumbers and lettuce in a large bowl, add 5 to 6 tbsp. oil and the lemon juice, and toss to coat evenly. Season with about 1/4 tsp. salt and toss again.
Spread basil purée on plates or a large platter, top with greens and cucumbers, and crumble goat cheese on top. Serve right away.
*Find Little Gem lettuce, a mini romaine, at farmers' markets.
Make ahead: For basil purée and lettuce, up to 1 day, chilled; bring basil purée to room temperature.