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One of Michael Paley's favorite ingredients is parsley--and he doesn't relegate it to an afterthought. Rather than use the greens as a garnish, Paley, the chef at Garage Bar in Louisville, places them front and center, crafting a sprightly salad. In lieu of a vinaigrette, Paley layers classic flavors, subbing bacon fat for traditional olive oil, lemon for the customary vinegar and rounding out the "dressing" with a drizzle of tart buttermilk. The result is refreshing, satisfying and balanced. Cheers to parsley's new starring role.

Parsley Salad with Pancetta, Buttermilk and Lemon

Recipe adapted from Michael Paley, Garage Bar, Louisville, KY

Yield: 4 servings

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

1½ ounces diced pancetta or thick slab bacon

2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, whole leaves picked and stems discarded

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup red onion, thinly sliced (about ½ a small onion)

3 lemons, rinds cut off and divided into segments

One small block Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Juice from 1 medium lemon (about 4 tablespoons)

½ cup fresh buttermilk

Directions

1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, cook the pancetta until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Divide the parsley evenly among four dinner plates and sprinkle each with salt and pepper. Top each salad with red onion and lemon segments; use a vegetable peeler to shave pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly over each salad. Drizzle the lemon juice and buttermilk evenly over top. Spoon some of the warm pancetta and about a tablespoon (or more if desired) of the warm pancetta fat over each salad and serve immediately.

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