It takes a bitter green to tackle a cold day. Bitter winter chicories are a salad’s response to the season. Chicories are leafy “greens” that include the likes of radicchio and Treviso, endive and escarole, frisee and puntarelle — all of which are notably not-so-green, but rather streaked in purples and reds or cast in icy whites and yellow-tinged celadon. These are the frigid-weather soldiers that thrive in a leafy salad bowl, inviting equally hardy and robust compatriots to join the mix.
Crunchy nuts, puckery fruit, briny olives and sharp onions are excellent team players in a chicory salad. They face and complement the bitter greens, with each ingredient standing shoulder to shoulder, in balance and not overpowering the salad. Call it a mutual salad treaty.
This salad is bright and fruity, with bitter and sweet notes. It’s a lovely, uplifting wintery salad that is refreshing and satisfying. Orange is the key citrus, fully incorporated with its zest and segments scattered throughout the salad, which is coated in an orange-infused vinaigrette. Crispy, juicy fennel slices accompany the leaves, adding cool anise notes, while the chopped fronds provide a frizzy aromatic lift. Citrus-soaked shallots streak the salad, punctuated by briny green olives and toasty roasted almonds.
Normally, chicories can handle rich and sharp dressings, smacking with balsamic and thick with mustard. This dressing, however, is more discreet, like a practiced facilitator; it’s a dignified mix of sherry vinegar, orange juice and olive oil that purposely enhances the individual flavors and textural combination of the bowl ingredients. This is a mutually successful salad, allowing each ingredient to shine and bond together to combat any winter fatigue.
Chicory Salad With Fennel and Orange
Active time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 to 40 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced, about 1/4 cup
4 tablespoons fresh orange juice, divided
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 navel orange
1 small fennel bulb
1 small head radicchio, cored, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1 small head frisee, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1 to 2 endives, ends trimmed, leaves cut into bite-size pieces
8 to 10 pitted green olives, such as Castelvetrano, halved
1/4 cup raw almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped, divided
Combine the shallot and 2 tablespoons orange juice in a small bowl. Stir to coat. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.
In a separate small bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons orange juice with the vinegar, orange zest, salt and black pepper. Drizzle in the oil, whisking to emulsify.
Supreme the orange: With a sharp paring knife, cut away the skin and white pith. Using the tip of the knife, cut each segment away from the membrane; discard the membrane and place the segments in a bowl.
Remove the stalks from the fennel bulb. Halve the bulb lengthwise and thinly slice. Pull off and reserve the fennel fronds from the stalks.
Combine the radicchio, frisee and endives in a bowl. Add the shallots, orange segments, sliced fennel bulb, olives and half of the almonds and gently toss with half of the dressing, adding more dressing to your taste. Sprinkle the remaining almonds over the salad and garnish with the fennel fronds.
Lynda Balslev is an award-winning writer, cookbook author, and recipe developer based in northern California. Visit TasteFood at TasteFoodblog.com.