Salads have a wonderfully reassuring ring to them for sad people who like to be on a perennial diet. Salads are spoken of in hallowed terms with holier-than-thou endorsement by those who would eat healthily. And salads are anything but a fresh ballad of nature’s leaves when served in dodgy food places, quite the opposite actually, because the food industry knows that clients must have the option of salad somewhere on the menu.
I am a salad purist, which makes me a very fussy salad eater because I do so love my salads and enjoy them especially for their gastronomic pleasure rather than for any health-promoting promise. The healthiness is a boon and a bonus, not a draw. Which is why you will never catch me looking lovingly upon a smoothie.
I once read or was told, I cannot remember which, that adding vinegar to a salad dressing was somehow counter-productive … in that the vinegar would ‘cook’ the salad leaves as it were whereas a ‘real’ salad ought to be crisp and fresh. It made sense and I tried it and liked it and pruned my salad dressing, for the most part, to salt and pepper and olive oil only. In other words, I eschewed the anointment of balsamic vinegar … which I now look upon as an insult to most green salads. “Anche perchè” as the Italians say, i.e. “not least because” … because the balsamic vinegar in question is usually some concoction of sugar and caramel added to any ol’ vinegar and nothing like the real thing that costs far too much for most households to use on a regular basis.
In the case of this salad, however, I have had to re-instate it. It made sense and it tasted lovely!
The name off this beautifully dappled salad is: radicchio variegato di Castelfranco and hails from the Veneto region of Italy. It is a cross between a round-headed endive and Radicchio Rosso. If you can’t get hold of this variety, use the ordinary radicchio that you can indeed find.
Drizzle some olive oil (extra virgin hand-pressed), use restraint in splashing a few ‘dots’ of good-quality balsamic vinegar, sprinkle some salt …. and voilà! A lovely salad that makes use of food that is in season (oranges and radicchio) as well as satisfying the palate.