Best Dinner Party Salad EVER: Mixed Chicory Lettuces, Pickled Veggies, Avocado + Crushed Hazelnuts a
The other night, I catered for a dinner party for 10 guests. My client wanted me to serve dinner "French Style", which means, soup, entree, salad and dessert.
Here is the menu I served:
~ Roasted Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup ~
~ Chili Cilantro Steelhead Trout ~
~ Coconut Black Rice ~
~ Crispy Garlic Brussel Sprouts ~
~ Mixed Chicory Salad with Quick Pickled Veggies, Crushed Hazelnuts and Dill ~
~ Triple Sec Poached Pears with Vanilla Creme Anglaise and Fresh Berries ~
When I serve dinner this way, I always make sure that the salad is bright and cleansing to the palate in order to get the guests ready for dessert. I personally find that the combination of chicory lettuces, herbs and pickled vegetables seems to do the job best.
After I served a very generous portion of Chili Cilantro Steelhead Trout with Coconut Black Rice and Crispy Garlic Brussel Sprouts to the guests, the salad went out.
10 minutes later, the salad plates came back....Empty. There wasn't even a piece of dill left on the plate.
When my client and her guests raved about the salad, I knew I had a winner and had to share the recipe with you!
Check it out and make it this week!
Mixed Chicory Salad with Quick Pickled Veggies, Crushed Hazelnuts and Dill
½ Shallot, finely chopped
1/3 Cup Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
1/3 Cup Good Olive Oil or Sesame Oil
2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard (I like the OrganicVille Dijon best.)
2 Teaspoons Honey
¼ Teaspoon Salt, or to taste
¼ Teaspoon Pepper, to Taste
1 Head Frisse, torn into bite size pieces
1 Head Radicchio. halved and thinly sliced crosswise
1 Endive, base trimmed and thinly slices crosswise
4 Radish, quartered and sliced thin
¼ Fennel Bulb, stalks and fronds removed, and base trimmed
¾ Cup Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Honey
¼ Cup Warm water
1 Bunch Dill, finely chopped
½ Cup Hazelnuts, crushed
I recommend making the dressing ahead of time so the shallot can “pickle” which will remove the bitter/sulfur like taste.
To make the dressing, peel the skin off the shallot and finely chop it. Add it a mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Add the seasoned rice vinegar, oil, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper. Tightly screw lid on and give the mason jar a good vigorous shake. Set aside.
The Quick Pickle:
Thinly slice radishes and fennel. Place the radishes in a cup and the fennel in another cup.
Mix ¾ cup seasoned rice vinegar with ¼ cup water and 1 tablespoon of honey. Pour half over the radishes and half over the fennel. Let pickle for at least 30 minutes.
Finely chop dill and crush hazelnuts. Place in a large salad bowl.
Salad + Greens:
Chop dill. Crush hazelnuts. Add to a large salad bowl.
Wash and dry frisse, radicchio and endive.
Tear frisse into bite size pieces.
Quarter radicchio and thinly slice.
Trim the base of the endive, cut in half and thinly slice.
Add the frisee, radicchio and endive to the salad bowl with the dill and hazelnuts.
To serve, drain the radishes and fennel. Discard the liquid. Add pickled radishes and fennel to the large salad bowl and evenly toss all the ingredients.
Shake the dressing jar and toss desired amount of dressing into the salad.
If you have leftover dressing, leave it in the jar, covered, to use for the rest of the week.
Tips and Tricks:
If you are a single person, make individual salads by evenly dividing the pickles into 4 mason jars. Add salad greens, hazelnuts and dill.
For the avocado, I recommend adding 1/4-1/3 of an avocado to the top of the salad in the mason jar on the day you are planning to eat it.
For the dressing, you can take it in a separate container and dress the salad when you are going to eat it. I like to pour the dressing down the inside of the mason jar allowing the dressing to run down the side of the jar until it hits the bottom. This way, the dressing does not touch all the lettuce and keeps it from getting soggy. When I am ready to enjoy my salad, I turn the jar upside down and shake it vigorously until the salad is evenly covered with dressing.