Recipe: Fennel and Radicchio Winter Salad with Pecans

2010_01_13-Salad.jpgWinter salads can be wonderfully impromptu affairs. This one, for instance, came out of my need for a fresh salad and one expedition to the grocery store. I just picked up a few relatively seasonal things to toss together, and the result was this crunchy, slightly bitter, tangy salad.

It’s really hard to go wrong with vegetables like these. The bitter radicchio is pleasant with the sweet, anise-flavored fennel, and the romaine lightens everything up with its crunch. The dressing is just a basic one, too — a little lemon, vinegar, and oil. I like the pecans here; they add a little toasty depth to a bright salad.

2010_01_13-Salad2.jpgFennel and Radicchio Winter Salad with Pecans
serves 6

Olive oil
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 small bulbs fennel
1 small head radicchio
2 hearts of romaine
Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces pecorino cheese

For the dressing:
1 lemon
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil

Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a medium skillet over moderately high heat. Add the chopped pecans and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes, or until they smell toasted and are developing dark spots. Set aside to cool.

Trim the fennel bulbs of their tops and stem end. Cut each bulb in half lengthwise and finely slice it using a mandoline. Cut the radicchio in half lengthwise and remove the core and stem end. Finely slice the radicchio on the mandoline as well. Chop the romained hearts crosswise into bite sized pieces and toss with the rest of the vegetables in a large bowl.

Taste and season to taste with salt and pepper. Shave in the pecorino cheese (the mandoline is great for this too). Toss the cheese into the salad, and add the cooled pecans and toss those in as well.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and toss with the mixed salad. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

(Images: Faith Durand)