Doing something completely unanticipated with lettuce, such as the baked lettuce and onion tart that we shared with you the other day, is one approach to defy the conventional narrative surrounding lettuce. Another approach is to broaden the concept of lettuce itself, like in the case of this crunchy and bitter chicory salad conceived by the brilliant brains behind San Francisco’s Bar Tartine.
Chicories are bitter greens that have a more powerful bite than sweet and soft garden greens; nonetheless, because of their bitterness, chicories can withstand a robust dressing quite well. Furthermore, the writers state that “beneath their bite is a sweetness that cries out for layers of acid, salt, and spice.”
The chefs and authors of Bar Tartine, Cortney Burns and Nicolaus Balla provide some background information on the origins of this salad. This is one of our family’s all-time favorite salads to cook at home, and we eat it as if it were a whole dinner. The first time we made it at home, we made enough for ten people and ate it out of an 18-quart/17-liter Dutch oven since that was the only container we had on hand that was big enough for mixing the greens. Neither of us is particularly adept at cooking for two people, so the first time we made it at home, we made enough for ten people and ate it out of an 18-quart/17-liter Dutch oven. To their credit, they have reduced the quantity to something more manageable for a home chef. This is excellent news, as this salad is well worth cooking on several occasions.
Notes on the Testing
If you enjoy Caesar salad, a traditional Caesar salad loaded with anchovies and garlic, then this is the salad for you. The dressing may be prepared in advance, imparting a delicious taste to both the pungent chicories and the robust radishes. Because none of the veggies will immediately wilt, this is an excellent choice for a salad that can be prepared in advance. The vegetables may taste better after they have had some time to marinate in the dressing.
This is a productive recipe! You could serve it as the main salad at a smaller dinner party with four to six people or offer it as a side salad at a bigger dinner party with eight to ten people.
FOR THE ANCHOVY DRESSING:
- 7 tablespoons (100 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 1 gram of fish sauce with a teaspoon
- 1 tablespoon of vinegar made from red wine
- 2 tablespoons of honey or fermented honey, whatever you like.
- 18 anchovy fillets that have been wrapped in oil and minced
- 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 liter + 2 tablespoons (115 grams) of freshly grated semi-firm cheese, such as Parmesan or Piave Vecchio cheese
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) unfiltered sunflower oil
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper that has been freshly ground
- 1/8 teaspoon of fiery red paprika powder or Hatch chile powder
- 1 tablespoon of horseradish that has been freshly grated
TO COMPLETE THE SALAD:
- 1 pound (455 grams) of various chicory greens, including Treviso, puntarelle, radicchio, escarole, and endive, washed, trimmed, and coarsely broken into pieces of 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in length.
- 1 bulb of fennel, cut in half, cored, and sliced very thinly
- 1 bunch of radishes, peeled, trimmed, and cut very thinly
- 2 tiny kohlrabi or daikon radishes, peeled and cut into half-moon shapes after being thinly sliced
- 1 bunch of green onions, including both the white and delicate green sections, cut very thinly
- 1/4 inch (6 mm) in thickness
- 1/2 handful of chopped fresh dill, reserved.
- one-half bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Horseradish that is fresh and used as a garnish
- To prepare the anchovy dressing, combine the following ingredients in a small bowl: lemon juice, fish sauce, vinegar, honey, anchovies, garlic, Parmesan, sunflower oil, salt, pepper, chili powder, and horseradish. Whisk until smooth. Keep it covered and chilled until you are ready to use it. Keeping the dressing in the refrigerator for up to five days is possible if it is sealed tightly in an airtight container. Before usage, give it a good shake.
- To prepare the salad, put the chicories, fennel, radishes, kohlrabies, green onions, dill, and parsley in a big bowl. Toss the salad after adding the dressing to get a uniform coating. After grating the horseradish very finely, sprinkle it over the salad and serve.