The holiday table is full of delicious (and rich) comfort foods. I like serving at least one dish that offers a contrast in flavor and texture. The many varieties of endives and chicories are at their peak in cool weather. Their bitter crunch are a delicious foil to rich casseroles and gravies. Choose an assortment of leaves that look good to you. I like radicchio for it’s beautiful red color, frisee for it’s unkempt frizz (use the white for salads, sauté the green tops to serve with salmon), and belgian endive for crunch. For a bright green pop, add arugula or spinach leaves.
In a large toss bowl, add your leaves along with sliced apple, walnuts or pecans, shaved parmesan, salt and pepper to taste, and a zippy dijon vinaigrette. My favorite is Julia Child’s classic recipe (see below).
Basic Vinaigrette Dressing
From Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom, by Julia Child
This is a bare-bones recipe for the simple all-purpose vinaigrette, which you will vary as you wish. Its beauty lies solely in the quality of your ingredients. Note that you will so often see proportions of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil, but that can make a very acid, very vinegary vinaigrette. I use the proportions of a very dry martini, since you can always add more vinegar or lemon but you can’t take it out.
½ Tbsp finely minced shallot or scallion
½ Tbsp Dijon-type mustard
¼ tsp salt
½ Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ Tbsp wine vinegar
1/3 to ½ cup excellent olive oil, or other fine, fresh oil
Freshly ground pepper
Either shake all the ingredients together in a screw-topped jar, or mix them individually as follows. Stir the shallots or scallions together with the mustard and salt. Whisk in the lemon juice and vinegar, and when well blended start whisking in the oil by droplets to form a smooth emulsion. Beat in freshly ground pepper. Taste (dip a piece of the salad greens into the sauce) and correct seasoning with salt, pepper, and/or drops of lemon juice.
Yield: For about 2/3 cup, serving 6 to 8