Winter Radicchio & Kale Salad

I love bitter winter greens! In Europe, radicchio or chicory salad is very common, but not so much here in the states. Many people are not used to the bitter flavor of radicchio, but trust me it’s time to start! Using other strong flavors like capers, lemon zest, and pecorino cheese you can balance the bitter notes of the radicchio. Bitter greens are great at stimulating healthy digestion and support liver function. Interestingly, radicchio has been found to have strong anti-parasitic effects as well.

In the winter months, sometimes salads just don't sound appealing. You want warm, cozy, comfort food. However, this hearty winter greens salad is the perfect accompaniment to a hearty stew or gooey casserole dish. It's got zest, its got crunch, and just tons of flavor. Don't shy away from what may be new or different. Try some radicchio today!

What is a Microplane zester? The microplaner is a great tool to have in a whole foods kitchen. I use my microplaner almost every day! It is the perfect tool to add citrus zest to meals. However, it can do more than just that. It can also grate garlic or peeled ginger root for an easy way to add extra flavor to meals. Plus, you can grate aged cheese so fine that it is airy and light. This is my favorite one!

Winter Radicchio & Kale Salad
Serves 4

½ bundle lacinato kale
1/2 large head of red radicchio leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Generous pinch sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons finely minced yellow onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated via a microplane zester
1 tablespoon drained capers
Zest of ½ lemon (use microplane zester)
¼ cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
½ cup finely grated pecorino cheese (use microplane to grate)

Place the kale leaves and radicchio leaves in a large bowl of cold water to plump up and clean of any debris. This is an essential step for a super fresh tasting salad.

Meanwhile, in the salad serving bowl combine the oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper. Whisk until the honey and salt are dissolved. Stir in the onion, garlic, drained capers, and lemon zest.

In a small skillet over medium heat add a teaspoon olive oil and add chopped almonds. Season with a pinch sea salt and stir until well combined. Toast until fragrant and golden brown. Be careful! These can quickly burn so make sure to pay attention. Once toasted transfer the nuts to a paper towel or small plate to cool.

Drain the kale and radicchio leaves and shake off excess water. Devein the kale leaves by pulling the leaves back along the stem. The little part of the stem at the upper part of the leaf is fine to keep. Stack the kale leaves on top of each other. Cut into thin long ribbons and transfer to the salad bowel, placing on top of dressing. Then, cut the thick white base off from the radicchio leaves. Stack the leaves on top of each other and cut just like the kale into thin long ribbons. You want about half the volume as kale and half the volume as radicchio. Transfer to the salad bowl. 

Top the leaves with the toasted almonds and finely grated pecorino cheese. I prefer to use a microplaner to grate the cheese because it allows for super fine, fluffy bits of cheese that easily combine with the rest of the ingredients. Toss well and serve.

Notes: Pecorino is aged goat cheese which has a very strong umami flavor. If you don't have pecorino on hand, try aged parmesan or asiago cheese. If you are not grating the cheese yourself using a microplaner opt for ¼ cup of finely grated cheese instead.

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