radicchio tastes as delicious as it is beautiful in
this holiday Caesar salad.
instructor says we’re squarely in the eating season; she
hounds us to pedal faster. She’s right, of course. From
Thanksgiving through New Year’s, temptations abound —
from the sharing tables at the office to dinners with
visiting friends and relatives. And let’s not talk about
my penchant for eating all the richest items at holiday
counteract the gravy, buttered rolls, rich stuffings,
scalloped potatoes, creamed spinach and candied yams? I arm
myself with an arsenal of lighter, delicious and beautiful
vegetable preparations that shake up the buffet.
Instead of a
typical green salad, I offer a holiday Caesar made with
stunning ruby red radicchio and a homemade dressing spiked
with lemongrass and fresh thyme. This gorgeous salad,
inspired by Cathy Whims’ version at Nostrana in Portland,
Ore., proves worthy of any party. The dressing and other
components of the salad can be made several days in advance.
eliminate any excuse for not eating salad, I trim, clean and
spin-dry a couple of days’ worth of interesting,
super-fresh salad greens. Then I put the greens into a
plastic container (or zip-close bag) lined with a paper
towel. Covered, and refrigerated, the greens will last
several days. Sturdy salad greens, such as romaine, frisee
and radicchio will keep nicely even longer.
croutons will make any salad a standout. For a Caesar salad,
I use a cheesy bread, such as the Three Cheese Semolina from
La Brea Bakery. Cut into evenly sized cubes and tossed with
a little olive oil, the bread crisps in about 10 minutes.
Pack them into a container when they are completely cool,
and they’ll keep several days.
dressing, I employ the microwave to lightly cook the eggs
destined to thicken and enrich the Caesar dressing. The
blender makes quick work of this creamy classic. Adding just
a dash of pureed lemongrass transforms the dressing into
holiday fare. I label and date the bottle of dressing to use
it within several days.
I think the
best salad combination is room-temperature dressing and
chilled, crisp greens. Just before serving, place the bottle
of dressing in a large mug full of hot water and let it
stand until the solidified oils liquefy and the flavors
peak. To properly dress a salad, measure out 1 tablespoon of
dressing for every 2 loosely packed cups of torn, cleaned
salad greens. Use a little bit extra for a more indulgently
dressed salad, but refrain from adding too much, or the
salad can get unpleasantly soggy. Always serve the salad
within a few minutes of dressing it; a chilled salad bowl
will buy you a little more time.
vegetables yields an infinitely more luxurious dish than
steaming or blanching them. Adding a full-flavored seasoning
gives them extraordinary flavor. My niece swears by a
combination of soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar and garlic for
her addictive roast broccoli. I keep a bottle of the mixture
on hand to use on just about any cut-up vegetable destined
for a sheet pan. Sugar might sound odd on vegetables, but
here it acts to boost flavors and mellow out bitterness.
meals, I combine root vegetables, such as zesty turnips,
sweet carrots and sturdy parsnips, before coating them with
the seasoning sauce. Broccoli and cauliflower likewise look
and taste great when roasted and combined. Make a double
batch of the seasoning sauce for roasting all season long.
Bring on the
eating season. We are ready.
interesting bread for interesting croutons: I like a hearty
bread laced with cheese for this Caesar. The large holes on
a four-sided grater make attractive shreds from a wedge of
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. This salad is great tossed with
bits of roasted turkey or chicken for a main-dish salad.
2 large heads
(8 ounces each) red radicchio
3 to 4 cups
(about 8 ounces total) 1-inch cubes of hearty bread, such as
three-cheese semolina or whole-grain artisan bread
Caesar dressing, recipe follows
fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup large
shreds of Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper
sprigs for garnish
1. Use a
paring knife to remove the core from the heads of radicchio.
Tear the radicchio leaves into large pieces, and place in a
colander. You’ll have about 12 cups. Rinse under cool
water, and spin dry in a salad spinner or pat dry with clean
toweling. Place the radicchio in a food-safe plastic bag or
container lined with paper toweling. Refrigerate covered for
1 hour or up to several days.
2. Heat oven
to 400 degrees. Place bread cubes on a large baking sheet.
Add olive oil, and toss to coat. Bake, stirring often, until
croutons are nicely golden on all sides, 12 to 15 minutes
total. Cool completely, and store in a covered container at
room temperature for up to several days.
before serving, have all the salad components ready. Place
the radicchio in a large bowl, and drizzle on the salad
dressing. Use tongs to toss the radicchio until it is coated
with the dressing. Transfer to a large platter or serving
bowl. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves, croutons and cheese.
Sprinkle with pepper. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve
information per serving: 224 calories, 14 g fat, 3 g
saturated fat, 28 mg cholesterol, 21 g carbohydrates, 8 g
sugar, 7 g protein, 174 mg sodium, 2 g fiber
DRESSING WITH LEMONGRASS AND THYME
You can skip
the anchovies, but they really make this a well-rounded,
delicious dressing. A tablespoon of finely chopped Kalamata
olives or oil-cured black olives make a decent vegetarian
substitute for both the anchovies and the Worcestershire
(which contains fish).
1 large or 2
1/2 of a
2-ounce can of anchovies, drained of oil
refrigerated lemongrass puree
2 large eggs
1/2 cup extra
virgin olive oil
fresh or dried thyme leaves
1. Use a
Microplane to grate about 1/2 teaspoon of the yellow part of
the lemon rind into a small bowl. Squeeze the lemon(s) into
a glass measuring cup until you have about 1/4 cup.
2. With the
blender running, drop the garlic through the feed tube to
chop it. Add the lemon juice, anchovies, Worcestershire and
lemongrass puree. Blend until smooth.
3. Coddle the
eggs in the microwave: Break eggs into a small bowl leaving
the yolks whole. Microwave on medium power (50 percent) for
30 to 40 seconds; watch closely, or the egg will overcook.
The white should be barely opaque, and the yolk still runny.
4. Add the
softly cooked eggs to the blender. Turn the blender on, and
stream in the oil by slowing pouring it in through the lid
with the blender running. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt; blend, then
taste and adjust salt again as needed.
to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add the grated lemon rind
and thyme leaves. Close the jar and shake well. Store in the
refrigerator up to several days. Use at room temperature.
information per serving: 75 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated
fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 1 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 1 g
protein, 78 mg sodium, 0 g fiber
SPICY ROASTED ROOT VEGETABLES
turnips, about 1 1/4 pounds
parsnips, about 13 ounces
carrots, about 1 pound
vegetable roasting sauce, see recipe
dark toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup mix
of chopped chives and parsley, or mix of chopped green
onions and parsley
1. Heat oven
to 400 degrees. Have 2 large oiled baking sheets ready.
2. Peel all
the vegetables, and trim off tough ends. Cut the turnips
into quarters through the stem end. Cut each quarter into
1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut the skinny ends of the parsnips
and carrots into 1/2-inch-thick coins. Then cut the fatter
top section of the parsnips and carrots in half, and cut
those halves into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons.
3. Mix all
vegetables in a large bowl; you’ll have about 10 cups. Add
the roasting sauce and toss to coat everything well.
4. Divide the
vegetables and sauce between the two baking sheets. Roast,
stirring every 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender when
pierced with the tip of a knife and nicely glazed, about 25
vegetables with rice vinegar and sesame oil; toss to coat.
Serve hot, sprinkled with chives and parsley.
information per serving: 165 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g
saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 18 g carbohydrates, 8 g
sugar, 3 g protein, 622 mg sodium, 5 g fiber
SPICY ROASTED BROCCOLI
I double the
recipe for a holiday meal and use both broccoli and
broccoli crowns (or a large head cauliflower)
Garlic-and-soy vegetable roasting sauce, see recipe
dark toasted sesame oil
2 to 3
tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or green onions
1. Heat oven
to 400 degrees. Use a paring knife to lightly peel the stems
of the broccoli. Use the knife to cut the florets into small
bite-sized pieces. Cut the stems into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.
Place on an oiled baking sheet. Add the roasting sauce and
toss to coat.
2. Roast in
the middle of the oven, stirring often, until broccoli is
tender when a knife is inserted, about 20 minutes.
3. Put into a
serving bowl and add vinegar and sesame oil. Toss to coat.
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
information per serving: 167 calories, 11 g fat, 1 g
saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 14 g carbohydrates, 5 g
sugar, 8 g protein, 606 mg sodium, 5 g fiber
VEGETABLE ROASTING SAUCE
grapeseed or sunflower oil
tamari soy sauce
coconut aminos or Worcestershire sauce
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate
covered up to a week.