Rise and shine

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The early mom gets a quiet cup of coffee. Which should be reward enough, but it isn't. I usually succumb to the snooze button.

Still, I'm impressed by early. The friend who wakes predawn to work. Or worse, work out. The quick-study who files early. Or worse, retires early. Problems I'll never share.

Outside, it's the same. While the hedgehog hits the snooze button, while the onion snuggles deep in its garden bed, the crocus shoots up, cracks a purple grin and shouts "Ta-dah!" Morning sorts tend toward smug.

I try. Like the sunny Sunday, sandwiched between slush and rain, when I dragged out the grill. Strangely prompt. Then I peered at the herb patch, dozing under a blanket of last fall's leaves. Slacker recycling.

Everyone seemed to be asleep, so I tiptoed around, trimming dried stems from the mint and lavender. I pulled back a tangle of twigs and was surprised to find bright green curls of parsley, eager to get to work.

Who knew earnest parsley — never smug — was a morning sort? I tossed together a salmon salad bright with lemon, green onion, cilantro and parsley and savored — late in the day — the benefits of rising early.

Salmon and parsley salad

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Wait: Overnight
Serves: 4

4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, split
2 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound salmon fillet, deboned, skinned, gray strip removed
About 11/2 cups olive oil
2 bunches parsley
1 bunch cilantro
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons each, toasted peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
Fresh lemon juice

Choose a pot that will offer the fish a snug fit. Scatter in half the thyme, garlic, cardamom, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Settle in fish. Pour in olive oil to completely cover. Add remaining thyme, garlic, cardamom, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Set over very low heat until salmon turns light pink, but remains slightly rare in the center, about 40 minutes.

Cover fish, spices, oil and all and chill overnight.

Coarsely chop leaves and tender stems of the parsley and cilantro. Coarsely chop nuts and seeds. In a serving bowl, toss together parsley, cilantro, nuts, seeds and onions.

Fish out fish from its oil bath. Crumble over parsley salad. Season with about 4 tablespoons of the cooking oil, about 2 tablespoons lemon juice and a little salt. Toss gently and serve.

Adapted from Manta Ray restaurant, Tel Aviv.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at leahreskin@aol.com.

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