Winter Chicories with Anchovy Dressing
Source: Viola Buitoni, Italy by Ingredient
Cicorie d’inverno in salsa di acciughe
This salad is a classic on my Christmas table. If I can find them, I use puntarelle, as per the custom of the Roman Christmases of my childhood. Puntarelle are the tips of the crunchy heart that forms inside a head of overgrown chicory. If they are unavailable, I will use a mix of brightly colored radicchio varieties. The acid-to-fat ratio in the dressing follows my mother’s, but I use lemon instead of vinegar as I prefer it, and I keep the garlic scant. To push it into adult dinner-party territory, I add some pine nuts and currants.
This recipe was demonstrated at the Foodwise Classroom on December 16, 2023.
2 heads winter chicory (any kind of radicchio, escarole, or frisée)
2 tablespoons dried currants
2 tablespoons pine nuts
6 anchovy fillets packed in oil
½ garlic clove
Extra-virgin olive oil as needed
1 or 2 pinches of red chili flakes
Clean and separate the chicory leaves and tear them by hand into pieces that can be manageably eaten. Drop the leaves into a salad spinner and rinse two or three times until all the dirt is gone.
Submerge the clean green leaves in water, toss 8 to 10 ice cubes into the spinner, and leave the salad to crisp while you ready the rest of the ingredients.
Soak the currants in hot water.
Heat a small frying pan over medium heat until hovering your hand over it feels quite uncomfortable. Toss in the pine nuts and turn off the heat. Swirl the pan to sweat and lightly toast the nuts.
Chop the anchovies roughly. Grate ½ teaspoons zest from the lemon, then juice the lemon and measure how much juice it yields. Put the anchovies, lemon zest and juice, and the garlic in a blender or small food processor.
Pour three times the amount of lemon juice in olive oil into a cup. Start the blender and slowly stream in the olive oil. You will yield a dense, lovely vinaigrette. Taste and adjust with salt if necessary. You can also do this by hand with a small whisk if you do not have an electric-powered device.
Drain the chicories and spin them three or four times, pouring out the moisture that gathers at the bottom between one cycle and the next. Move the dry leaves to a salad bowl and sprinkle them with the chili flakes and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss well.
Drain and squeeze the currants and add to the salad bowl along with the toasted pine nuts.
Pour 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 milliliters) of the dressing along the side of the salad bowl, then toss with salad servers or clean hands until all the leaves are coated. Add more dressing if needed, keeping in mind that the leaves should glisten, not drip. Store any extra dressing for your next salad.