But the 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:
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 due 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.
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!
Heads up that we made this recipe during our Cooking Club Cocktail Party class. So, if you want to see it made step by step -- and get a glimpse of the menu we'd pair this with -- go ahead and watch the recording of the class!
plus more for garnish
Make The Maple Lemon Cream Sauce: 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.
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. (All this prep can be done up to 1 hour 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.
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