I'm still in LA, and Maxwell finally joined me a few nights ago. I took him straight from the airport to dinner at Mozza, a Nancy Silverton/Mario Batali/Joseph Bastianich production in Hollywood that I've been wanting to try. We sat at the bar and nibbled on this knock-out salad: a concoction of crispy crimson endive, whisper thin fennel and slabs of Parmesan cheese tossed with a dressing made from dates and anchovies.
We had dinner guests last night and so I attempted to reproduce the dish. It wasn't as beautiful as Mozza's presentation, but it was almost as tasty.
Endive, Fennel and Parmesan with Anchovy Date Dressing
3 heads Belgian endive
1 fennel bulb plus handful of attached ferny fronds
2-3 oz Parmesan cheese, sliced or shaved into ribbons
4 large dates, pitted and finely chopped
8 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 medium orange
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Discard bruised or discolored outer leaves of endive. Peel away remaining leaves, wash them and set to dry on a towel.
Remove, wash and set aside 10-12 nice looking fennel fronds. Chop of remaining stalky fronds from top of bulb. Slice away any bruised or discolored parts of bulb. Slice 1/4" or smaller pieces crosswise with a sharp knife or on a mandoline.
Prepare the dressing: in a large mixing bowl, combine dates, anchovies, zest from the orange, and garlic. Combine by mashing with the back of a spoon. In a small bowl, whisk together juice from the orange, oilve oil and vinegar. Stir into date mixture.
Set out plates. Dredge and tap off pieces of endive and fennel and stack alternately with Parmesan on each plate. Garnish with a few cracks of pepper and a few fennel fronds.