The Thanksgiving salad toss

November 23rd, 2009

As turkey day approaches, put a few new salad ideas on the list….all the shopping, chopping, roasting, saucing and baking takes time and planning, but what about the salad? For the vagabond, a simple and savory salad offers a refreshing pause between the turkey, roast beef, pork or pheasant and the oncoming pies – a natural palate-cleanser. For special holiday meals, a salad need not be dull during a greens season of  ruby radiccio, ivory endive, fennel and curly green frisée. Talk color, talk about Trevisa and Chioggia, two towns in eastern Italy where winter lettuce is a market draw.

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Our local growers bring the round, firm Chioggia variety to November markets. Best after the first frost, Trevisa radiccio is elongated with deep red veins and a tangy, slight bitterness in the bite. Radiccios add snap to a tossed salad, color when shredded and stirred into a risotto, and perk up appetites as a grilled and oil-drizzled first course.  For a dramatic dish on the holiday table, mix them with chunks of white Belgian endive dressed with a classic, herbed vinaigrette.

Winter salads, toss as you please

Winter salads, toss as you please

Recipe: MC, our “Maître de Salade”, does a basic vinaigrette – whisked together in a minute:  2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1 teaspoon (or tablespoon if you wish!) French Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt, then whisk in 3 tablespoons of your best olive oil. Mix it up an hour ahead, let the flavors mellow and re-stir before tossing the salad. Variations on this theme run from adding peeled and deveined shrimp, a little dill or thyme and some pomegranate seeds to shredded Belgian endive, or add strips of cooked beets (add a pinch of sugar, ginger and black pepper to the dressing) and arugula leaves for diverse textures. Bring on the winter greens, whether before or after the turkey – that is your call.

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