One of the things I find during our cold winters is that I find I don’t eat fresh fruit and salads nearly as often. In summer, there is so much fabulous fruit in season, and it’s generally so hot, that I can easily have meals of nothing but salad followed by mangoes, or peaches, or cherries or any of the other wonderful summer fruit.
While I do love winter fruit, as you can probably see from the number of recipes here involving citrus – or lemons, blood oranges, or limes – I confess I get a bit sick of eating nothing but apples and oranges. When it comes to salads, I find it even harder to get excited about lettuce in the cold, and the usual salad vegetables are really not in season anyway.
At the same time, and just to be difficult, I really crave that crunch and freshness after yet another meal of delicious (but decidedly un-crunchy) pea and ham soup! This salad has crunch and freshness in spades, and uses vegetables that are strongly flavoured enough – sharp, peppery, bitter, aniseed flavoured – to jolt anyone out of a pea and ham stupor 🙂 I also really love the colours – the different shades of red make me think of a Flemish still-life…
As I mention below, it serves four as a side dish, but more commonly Mr GP and I will demolish a plateful as the children are less keen on the bitterness.
Inspired by a couple of salads at Orangette
- half a head of radicchio
- 1 fennel bulb
- a small bunch of radishes (about 6)
- 1/2 an avocado
- a handful of fresh coriander
- approx 30g pecorino or parmesan
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- squeeze of lemon (optional)
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the dressing, whisk together the mustard and vinegar in a small bowl until smooth, then add the oil gradually, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper and add a little lemon or more mustard or vinegar if you like – dressings are something I always make to taste.
For the salad, rinse the radicchio ( I find they are usually quite clean, so I rinse the outside but don’t pull the leaves apart and immerse) and cut across into roughly 1cm wide strips. Trim any damaged layers from the outside of the fennel, then cut it lengthways into quarters and slice the bulb thinly across, including any young leaves, but not the tough stalks. Top and tail the radishes and thinly slice. Halve the avocado, then peel and slice across. Thoroughly rinse and dry the coriander and roughly chop; shave the cheese with a vegetable peeler or microplane.
Lay all the salad components over a large plate, drizzle with the dressing, and gently toss with your fingers without crushing the leaves.
Serves two as a main, or four as a generous side dish.
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