Bitter Greens and Winter Roots

This recipe comes from one of my students at the Stratford Chefs School.

“Full of sharp, bitter and bright flavours, this crisp salad is perfect for pairing with traditionally heavy winter meals,” says Sam Bavaro, a second-year student. “Serve this salad with attitude. Use a plate and let the salad fall naturally, showing height and body. Set the table with a fork and knife to cut the big leaves and roots,” he says. Use purple and yellow carrots for colour contrast.

Vinaigrette:

1 tsp honey

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

4 tsp lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad:

2 medium heirloom carrots

1 small fennel bulb, core removed

1 head Treviso, core removed

2 Belgian endive, core removed

1 head frisée

1 small radicchio, core removed

2 good handfuls of young arugula

1 red finger chili, thinly sliced in rings on a diagonal (optional)

Whisk together honey, olive oil and thyme in a bowl. Whisk in lemon juice. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Just before serving, taste vinaigrette again and add more lemon juice if it needs refreshing.

Peel strips of carrots from top to bottom with a vegetable peeler. Place the ribbons of carrot in a bowl with cold water and ice, (about a cup of ice for every 3 cups water). This will “shock” the carrots and leave them crisp and firm.

Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise and then slice as thin as possible lengthwise. Add to water bath.

Slice leaves of the Treviso and Belgian endive in half lengthwise if they are too big, but otherwise leave whole. Add frisée, Treviso and endive to ice bath.

Slice the radicchio in half and then lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Reserve. Spin vegetables dry just before serving. Place in a bowl and toss with the arugula. Add the red finger chili, if using.

Drizzle 2 tbsp dressing around the outside of the mixing bowl, just before serving, not on the salad itself. Use clean hands or tongs to gently toss and flip the salad. Add more dressing to taste. Season with salt and pepper.