We’re went to my friend Sienna’s house for a pre-Christmas dinner last night. She also invited Alessio and family, the owners our favorite restaurant, Taverna dei Fori Imperiali. So, as you can imagine, she went all out in the food department. The main course was duck and my duty was to bring the salad.
My new passion when it comes to salad these days is cavolo nero, or Tuscan kale. While I’m a big fan of cavolo nero (we grow tons of it in Todi) it never occurred to me that you could eat it raw. It makes sense though, since cole slaw is nothing more than raw cabbage.
It took my friend Melissa Clark to wake me to it’s wonders. She writes about it in her new book, In the Kitchen With A Good Appetite, and many bloggers, including Heidi Swanson, have spun their own versions of the recipe.
While Melissa’s and Heidi’s salads are garlic-packed, I decided to make mine a softer version. Since Sienna had the whole duck thing going on, I thought something slightly sweet, with a bit of crunch would be just right. I also picked up some beets, and thought the red/green theme would be very Christmasy.
Christmas Cavolo Nero Salad
1 large bunch of cavolo nero (about 8 cups, cleaned)
1 small head radicchio
4 medium sized beets
1/4 cup of roasted almonds
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1/3 cup grated ricotta salata (or hard goat cheese if you can’t find ricotta salata)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 Tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
4 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
4 Tabelspoons fresh Meyer lemon juice
1 Tablespoon honey
2 tsp dijon mustard
Wash cavolo nero, and remove all the thick stems. Slice the leaves cross-wise, into ribbons about 1/4 inch thick. Wash and slice the radicchio.
Wash beets, trimming off the tops and tails. Wrap them in tin foil and roast at 350F/180C for about an hour- hour and a half, until tender. Take off tin foil, and remove skin. Cut into small cubes.
Chop the roasted almonds and raisins roughly.
Mix all the dressing ingredients together. (I usually just use the immersible blender and the container that came with it.) Taste and adjust for salt. If it seems a bit too sweet, you can add some lemon juice.
Put all the salad ingredients in a bowl, add dressing and toss.