Somehow it seems spring and summer are when salads get all the love.
Keys To Winter Salads
But there are also salads that come into their own in the colder months and we adore them so. In the autumn, we like to pack our Fall salads with persimmons, pears, or squash. And we are very into winter salads too!
This is the time of year when bitter greens (especially Italian chicory like radicchio) taste their best, when citrus is abundant, and when bold flavors like pomegranate seeds or cranberries come forward. Here are a few tips to make your winter salads taste their best:
- Use In-Season Greens: This is the time of year to opt for bigger, heartier, and more robust greens – think collard greens, escarole, kale, and the chicory family (as in endive and radicchio). Not only are these greens in season from the fall to late winter but it’s also when they taste their best (read sweetest and most flavorful).
- Turn To Seasonal Fruit and Produce: We hear you – you think everything tastes better with tomatoes. But you know what? There are few dishes sadder than those made with unripe, insipid tomatoes. All the more reason to opt for fruit and produce that is in season.Our favorites to use for winter salad recipes include citrus, pomegranate seeds, cranberries, carrots, and beets.
- Bring Texture With Nuts, Seeds, Croutons, and Cheese: Remember, it’s not just flavor that makes a salad but also contrasts of textures (a Caesar Salad is made by the combo of creamy and crunchy after all). An easy way to bring that is to add in a crumbly cheese, a handful of toasted nuts or seeds, or even croutons. Try this Roasted Beet Salad With Citrus, Sesame, Walnuts, and Cheese to see what we mean!
- Up Flavor With The Dressing: And don’t forget the dressing. Yes, a fresh salad with a drizzle of oil and vinegar always works but you can bring a ton of flavor to a salad with the help of a dressing be it a classic shallot vinaigrette, a lemongrass peanut combo, a roasted rosemary honey number, or the maple lemon combo used here.
Tips For Buying And Cooking Radicchio
You may think of radicchio (pronounced “rah-dee-kee-oh” by the way) as just another green but that’s not quite correct. Radicchio is actually in the chicory family (along with chicory, endive, and puntarelle) is related to sunflowers so it’s not totally correct to consider it a salad green.
There are loads of different types of radicchio and some are so celebrated (ahem, Treviso) that they have obtained the geographically protected status back in Italy.
The main type of radicchio you see in the U.S. is known as Chioggia though you can order other types like Treviso and our favorite Castelfranco from specialty growers like Joe’s Premium.
This radicchio recipe is a chance to give those greens their value in a major way. If you have a farmers market that runs into the Fall and Winter, head there to search out all the various chicories that come out that time of year. If not, this is equally delicious with endive.
As with all other greens, look for the bunches to be heavy for their size and for the leaves to be fresh and tightly packed.
You can eat radicchio raw (as we suggest in this recipe) but when it comes to cooking with radicchio, you want to make sure you combine it with flavors that complement and don’t fight its bitterness. Ingredients that provide umami (Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, mushrooms, anchovies, or balsamic vinegar), sweetness (honey or maple syrup), or richness (cream, blue cheese, eggs) pair fantastically with radicchio.
About The Lemon Maple Cream Sauce
The key to this dish is the Lemon Maple Cream Sauce, which is thicker than a dressing and really uplifts anything with which its paired. Here the sweet, citrusy notes balance the bitter and spiciness for a pretty perfect pairing.
If you’re not entertaining anytime soon, you could make this into a proper salad by sampling layering all the ingredients on a salad platter. But this in hand with its jewel-toned colors and mix of flavors makes for something that’s made for cocktail party gatherings!
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Radicchio Salad Cups With Maple Lemon Dressing Recipe
For The Maple Lemon Cream Dressing:
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Peel of 3 lemons
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Pure maple syrup
- kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
For The Salad Cups:
- 2 small heads radicchio or endive leaves separated
- 1 medium Pink Lady or other sweet apples
- 1 medium fennel bulbs
- 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 handful baby arugula
- Maldon sea salt or other flaky sea salt, for garnish
- Make The Maple Lemon Cream Dressing: Combine the cream and lemon peels in a small bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours until the mixture is well infused with the lemon flavor. Discard the peels and strain the cream into a large bowl. Add the oil and whip to soft peaks then mix in the lemon juice and maple syrup. Add more salt and a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper then taste and adjust as desired.TIP: Dressing can be made up to three days ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Prepare the Radicchio Salad Cups: Trim the ends off the radicchio or endive, then separate them into individual leaves and soak in ice water while you prepare the remaining ingredients.Juice the 3 lemons you peeled, place them in a mixing bowl and fill them with ice water. Halve the apple, core it, then thinly slice the apple into half-moon shapes. Immediately place the sliced apple into the ice water.Reserve the fennel fronds and place them in another bowl of ice water. Trim off the end of the fennel, then thinly slice the bulb, so you have paper-thin rings of fennel. Add the sliced fennel to the bowl of fennel fronds. TIP: All this prep can be done up to 4 hours ahead of serving.
- Assemble The Lettuce Cups: Once the Maple Lemon Cream sauce (above) is ready, drain all the vegetables from their water and pat them dry.To make one cup, take a radicchio or endive leaf, add 1 teaspoon of the Maple Lemon Cream sauce to the bottom, then add a few slices of each apple and fennel. Add in couple of arugula leaves then top with a pinch of each of the nuts and the pomegranate arils. Repeat to make more salad cups. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of flaky sea salt and serve.TIP: All this prep can be done up to 1 hour before serving.