Radicchio & Endive Salad with Pecans, Apple & Mandarin

 

Endives. Endive salad. Radicchio?  Radicchio and Endive salad.  Bitter, bitter winter vegetables.  Do I remind you of a broken record (or a song from The Cataracs)?  Folks, radicchio, endives and citrus fruits are in season (if you are in the same hemisphere as me).  Cooking in season is cool, so bare with me while I make a bitter winter salad.  “Bitter” is such an onomatopoeic word, is it not?  Do you picture a kid with a strained, unpleasant look on his/her face when you read the word, “bitter?” It sounds like its meaning; now that I have made the decision to like radicchio, “bitter” does not do the plant justice.  Let’s go with a new word, then.  Sophisticated.  We are making a sophisticated salad using vegetables with a sophisticated taste. What this means, is after your palate overcomes the eye-squinting, puckering bitterness of the radicchio, it will embrace (trained by your strong, strong brain) the buttery versatility of the plant which is quite nutritious for your body.  Both endives and radicchio are high in fiber, Vitamins A, K and folate. Eat well, eat often. 😉

What possessed me to make a radicchio and endive salad?  Remember my friend Gwen who made the six-course meal for Christmas and inspired me to make the Clementine & Rosemary Olive Oil Cake? The very same Gwen (the one and only) made an endive salad as part of her Christmas feast.  I don’t remember what was in her salad (I think walnuts and other deliciousness), but I do remember her recipe came from Food & Wine.  I therefore loosely adapted my recipe from this Food & Wine recipe.

Before I set out to make an endive and radicchio salad, I wondered who, if anyone, purchases these ingredients regularly.  So I DuckDuckGo-ed it.  Turns out the Italians are big fans of radicchio and use the plant in a variety of their winter dishes.  They eat radicchio both raw, preserving the bitter flavor, or stewed which seems to be the preferred cooking preparation.  For this salad, I chose to keep the veggies raw.  Next time I make this recipe, I will grill the endives and radicchio for added char flavor and to soften a little of the onomatopoeic bitterness.  If you have the will and the way to grill the veggies, I would recommend you do so because I think it would be the icing on the cake.  The en to the dive. The rad to the radicchio.  Get a hold of yourself, Julia.

To offset the strong flavor of the radicchio, I added quite a bit of fruit to the recipe as well as pecans to bring out the nutty endive flavor. I also complimented the bitter and the sweet of the ingredients with a sweet and tangy vinaigrette.  This bitter winter salad turned out delicious if I do say so myself, and it makes quite a bit of salad for not a lot of work, which is perfect for entertaining guests.

 

Ingredients:

For the salad

  • 3 Belgian endives
  • ½ head of radicchio
  • 2 mandarins
  • 1 Fugi apple
  • ½ cup pecans, toasted

For the dressing

  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • Salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

To Make:

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dressing and mix well.  Heat a small skillet over medium heat and gently toast the pecans, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Chop the endives, radicchio and apple and place in a large serving or mixing bowl.  Peel the mandarins, section them out and put them and the pecans with the other ingredients.

 

Drizzle desired amount of dressing over all ingredients and toss until salad has a thin coat of dressing over it.  I like my salads to have a strong dressing flavor, so if you are the same way, use all of the dressing from the above recipe – if you like the flavor to be more subtle, use half and then test out the salad before adding more.  Allow salad to sit at least 30 minutes before serving so that the vinegar (and other liquids) soften the endive and radicchio leaves a little and break down some of the bitter taste.

 

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