My old friend was back in town, delivering a high-profile talk at a scientific meeting. We’d been roommates way back when, before she moved on to pursue bigger fish in bigger ponds. Now she waxed nostalgic and talked about moving home for good. The time was right to take advantage of her vulnerability, to ply her with the sort of food that reminds a gal where her heart really lies. So we cooked up a big dinner with loads of herbs like we used to do, but using upgraded ingredients. The offerings included trap-caught Alaskan cod, eaten with thin slices of lardo and a tangy herb salad. We ate chard braised with cilantro, rich polenta that oozed sweet marjoram. With herbs this time of year, it’s just a matter of reaching into the garden and swiping what looks good.

Recipe: Pan Fried Cod with Herb Salad

1½ lbs firm white fish such as halibut or cod / olive oil / salt & pepper / 1 shallot, sliced thinly / 2 tsp sherry vinegar / ½ cup fresh mint leaves / ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves / ½ cup sorrel / 2 tbl chives, minced / 1 tsp lemon zest / 2 oz. lardo or other cured pork, shaved into thin slices, optional

Thirty minutes in advance, rinse shallot slices in cold water, drain, then add vinegar and toss. Rinse fish and pat dry, then gently rub in 3 tbs of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

When shallot has mellowed, finely chop mint, tarragon, and sorrel leaves. Combine chopped herbs with chives and lemon zest. Heat oil or render half of shaved lardo in a heavy skillet over high heat. When the pan is hot, add fish and cook until flesh just flakes, about 3 minutes per side, then remove from pan. Turn heat down and cook remaining lardo slices until just brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Toss herb leaves with shallots, adding additional olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Place crisped lardo atop fish, then cover generously with herb salad. Serve immediately. Feeds 4. Adapted from Jerry Traunfeld.