This salad has big, bold, mouth-filling flavors and is essentially a meal-in-a-bowl. I had a version of it at Lure in San Mateo (see my restaurant review of this great spot on the blog) and it was so memorable that I developed my own version. It’s a good fall/winter salad, during prime citrus season. Among the wonderful things about this salad is the contrast of sweet/bitter, soft/crunchy and it’s beautiful to look at as well.
(see quantities below)
– radicchio and/or red endive, shredded or sliced
– tangerines or mandarine oranges or oranges or…, peeled, seeded, skinned if necessary and cut into bite-sized pieces
– medjool dates, pitted (you can easily pit them yourself) and cut into small pieces
– sliced almonds, toasted (350° at 11 minutes or until slightly toasted; on cookie sheet)
– ricotta salata cheese, cubed (room temperature) – can likely be ordered online if necessary
Pomegranate vinegar* or any sweeter vinegar like berry, balsamic, etc.
Xtra virgin olive oil
* these can be pomegranate balsamic, pomegranate champagne vinegar, or something else. gourmet shops/markets (Draeger’s) will stock them, or get them online. It’s not critical to use pomegranate vinegar, actually, so don’t sweat it if you can’t find it.
Relative quantities of ingredients aren’t critical. In order of volume, there is more radicchio/endive than anything else. For a typical head of radicchio, you’ll need approximately 8 dates, 5-6 mandarines (they’re small) or less if using other citrus. I use a fair amount of sliced almonds, but the final quantity isn’t a lot. The cheese will be sold in a pre-set size. For a one-head-of-radicchio salad, probably 1/2 cup of cheese cubes is about right. However, you can change the quantities to suit your taste.
Mix everything (undressed) but the almonds and cheese together. This can be refrigerated until serving time. When ready to serve, toss in room-temperature cheese cubes, dress lightly and put in a dusting of almonds, them toss everything together again.
Add salt & pepper to taste if desired.
The easiest and fastest way is to use a food processor or mini-processor. If you don’t have one: First, finely dice the shallot. Add to the shallot 3 tablepoons vinegar and 6-8 tablespoons oil (the sweeter the vinegar, the less oil is needed), whisking until blended. Taste the dressing and adjust oil or vinegar until it suits your taste. This might make a bit more dressing than needed for the salad, but it’s a good dressing to use on anything. If you want to make more dressing, just increase quantities but keep the same relative proportions. You might need to whisk the dressing again right before putting on salad if it separates.
In our area, the best place to find everything is Draeger’s. You’ll find radicchio, citrus and probably dates at markets like Whole Foods, Andronico’s, Mollie Stone’s, etc. Safeway and its ilk likely won’t have radicchio and certainly won’t have the scarcer ingredients.
Ricotta salata is available at Draeger’s and Whole Foods. I prefer the brand sold at Draeger’s but the one at Whole Foods is ok. AG Ferarri (there’s one in downtown PA) and other high-end Italian markets carry it, too. It’s a terrific sheep cheese, lower fat than many and excellent in salads. More info and an online source here: http://www.agferrari.com/index.php/item/item/3106.html
All sorts of pomegranate vinegars are available online as well.
It’s worth it to use a good xtra virgin olive oil. AG Ferrari has some excellent ones (they’ll give you tastes before you buy and they’re knowledgeable about their offerings). Draeger’s has so many that it’s difficult to select from among them and there’s nobody to help you choose.