Food & Wine (December 2012)
There's something about a bracing winter salad that can be so satisfying for the holidays. It's like a clean knife cutting through all the heavy, rich, sweet flavors that dominate the menu this time of year.
When we had four friends -- Drew, Ralph, Ken and Jeff -- over for dinner last week, we served that wonderful Roast Lamb with Fennel and Apples, and we finished the evening with the Peppermint-Meringue Brownie Cake.
This Mixed Herb Salad was a great way to kick off that meal.
The salad is very good. The three different lettuces and an abundance of fresh herbs -- tarragon, mint, parsley, chives -- make for a nice mix of flavors and textures. And the Pickled Radish Vinaigrette was great: sharp, clean and bright.
One note on the breadcrumbs: We snapped our photo before we realized we were supposed to break the toasted brioche pieces into crumbs. That sprinkling of breadcrumbs added a nice crunch and a toasty contrast to all the acidity going on.
If we were to make this salad again, we might tweak it slightly. The final result, while good, actually felt a tad underdressed. Maybe we'd double the vinaigrette to make sure we had enough. Also, for all our tough talk about wanting something bracing and acidic, we felt like this salad could have used a little sweetness. Maybe a tablespoon of honey in the dressing?
Still, a great twist on a winter salad. And we're very happy to now have the Pickled Radish Vinaigrette in our repertoire. That's a dressing that would be great all year long.
Other Winter Salads We've Loved:
- Beet and Apple Salad
- Kale, Blood Orange and Hazelnut Salad
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples with Endive
- Beet and Tangerine Salad with Cranberry Dressing
Total time: 2 hrs 30 min
Servings: 8 to 10
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons rosé vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
5 radishes, very finely diced
2 tablespoons minced shallots
Freshly ground pepper
3 ounces brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes (3 lightly packed cups)
1 head of red leaf lettuce, leaves torn
1 head of Bibb lettuce, leaves torn
One 6-ounce head of frisée, torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup lightly packed tarragon leaves
1/4 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup lightly packed mint leaves
1/4 cup snipped chives
Crushed pink peppercorns, for garnish (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest and juice with the olive oil, vinegar and coriander. Stir in the radishes and shallots and season with salt and pepper. Let the vinaigrette stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the brioche cubes on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until golden and crisp. Let cool slightly, then break the cubes into coarse bread crumbs.
In a large bowl, toss all of the lettuces with the tarragon, parsley, mint and chives. Add the radish vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Transfer the salad to plates. Top with the brioche crumbs, garnish with crushed pink peppercorns and serve.
Make Ahead: The radish vinaigrette can be refrigerated overnight.