Sitting here, writing this, my very cold feet are a clear reminder that we are in the middle of winter. And yet while I’m a strong proponent of warming soups, stews and oven bakes in the winter months, I felt so much in need of something that reminded me that there will be an end to the grey skies and the sad, muddy brown all around eventually, that I just had to make something colourful and delicate.
While we naturally associate salads with summer, nature has come up with some beautiful winter crops such as some bitter leaf varieties: chicory, radicchio, kale or the even more widely used and loved lamb’s lettuce. And of course winter is the time of the citrus fruit! Last year I made a beautiful blood orange & Swiss chard salad – this year it will be grapefruit. As you may have guessed by now, I’m quite a fan of a little bitterness. From VERY dark chocolate to campari and tons of arugula, it is a flavour I don’t want to miss. I recently stumbled across a whole cookbook dedicated to that least loved flavour – sounds very promising.
If you feel like you have over-indulged in the festive season on sweets, meat or a little too cheesy dishes, I reckon it will feel great to give your taste buds a little change and have something slightly bitter, crisp and incredibly fresh. You might not need a ‘detox plan’ just have yourself this very simple salad – it’s like a glimpse of spring on a plate!
Caramelized chicory & grapefruit salad
(serves 2 as a light meal or a starter)
3 chicory (Belgian endive)
1 pink grapefruit
80g feta or soft goat’s cheese
zest and juice of a lime (organic if possible)
a few basil leaves
1-2 tsp rice malt syrup or aromatic honey
1 tsp fennel seeds
drizzle of good quality olive oil
coconut oil or ghee for frying
sea salt, pepper
Slice the avocado, drizzle with lime juice and some salt and set aside. Cut each chicory lengthwise in quarters. You want to leave the stalk intact for otherwise the leaves will fall apart; it will soften when sautéed. Fillet the grapefruit, try to cut off as much of the white skin as possible for it tastes rather bitter. Carefully grate the lime and set the zest aside. Half a few of the hazelnuts and roast them together with the rest in a dry pan, set aside.
In the same pan heat some coconut oil on medium heat and place the endives in the pan. Season with salt and pepper and trickle the rice malt syrup over the endives. After a few of minutes turn them over, they should turn golden brown, but not be really burnt. In total sautée them for about 10 minutes. Add the fennel seeds a few minutes before the end, so they give some flavour but do not burn.
Arrange chicory, avocado and grapefruit on a plate. Top with crumbled feta, hazelnuts and torn basil leaves. Sprinkle the lime zest over it and drizzle carefully with a little good quality (fruity) olive oil.