this salad is perfect for your fall table...
I found inspiration for this salad from Morocco – not the spices, but the flavor combination of the bitter radicchio, sweet pears and pomegranates, crunchy, cool cucumbers, salty, briny feta, creamy, nutty walnuts, and tangy, bright pickled onions. I realize that there are a lot of topping for this salad, but they all come together in this delicious combination of flavors. Luckily, you can prep everything but the pears in advance and assemble the salad right before serving it.
I love the flavor combination here, there is so much going on. And it works. You can easily omit the nuts, or sub pistachios or almonds if you prefer. Prep all of the ingredients, except the pears, in advance. Slice the pears right before assembly to prevent them from oxidizing.
Pickled Red Onions:
- 1 red onion, very thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses, or honey
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 assorted pears, sliced
- 1 head radicchio, leaves torn into pieces
- 2 heads little gem lettuce or baby romaine, ends trimmed, leaves washed and dried
- 2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced into rounds
- 1 cup crumbled feta – I recommend buying feta in water and crumbling it
- 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts, toasted in a pan with a little oil and salt until golden
Put the sliced onion in a heat proof, non-reactive bowl. Bring the vinegars, salt, honey and peppercorns to a boil. Pour the mixture over the onions and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to cool to room temperature. Alternatively, put the onions into a heat safe glass jar. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over the onions in the jar and place the top on and gently twist, just a little bit. Don’t make the top too tight so that steam can escape if needed. Allow to cool to room temperature before using or refrigerating. This is the best option if you’re making them in advance.
Put all of the ingredients into a bowl except the oil. Whisk to combine, then slowly whisk in the oil. This will help to emulsify the dressing. The dressing can be made a week in advance. Refrigerate until using.
Start by layering the radicchio and little gem leaves in the bottom of a bowl. Drizzle some of the dressing over the greens and top with some of the topping. Then make another layer of the greens, finishing with the remaining toppings. Add more dressing and serve.
You can make the salad dressing and pickled onions at least a week in advance. Keep refrigerated until using.
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