This is a very pleasing salad. I like the crunchiness of the fennel. The slightly bitter radicchio and walnuts contrasts with and brings out the sweetness of the fennel, and it has pretty white/pink/red colors.
Source: Modified and reworded from “Winter Salad with Fennel, Radicchio, Walnuts and Manchego” from Melissa Clark’s “Cook This Now”. The radishes and poached egg, and a few other minor details are my own input.
Winter Salad with Fennel, Radicchio, Walnuts and Manchego or Parmesan
- 1 juice from lemon
- 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or optionally replace half the olive oil with walnut oil; using 100% walnut oil is too cloying)
- 2 oz aged manchego or Parmesan cheese, grated with a Microplane or other grater (about 1.2 cups)
- 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
- 1 small head radicchio (about the size of a baseball; don’t use too much more than this because it will make the salad too bitter), quartered lengthwise and cored
- 1 small fennel bulb, fronds removed
- (optional) 8 to 12 French radishes
- A small handful of toasted walnuts, either whole or very coarsely chopped
- 2 oz aged manchego or Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler into curls
- (optional) 1 poached egg per person
Mix the Vinaigrette:
Add 1-1/2 Tbsp lemon juice into a small bowl; reserve the rest. Mix salt, pepper, and garlic into the bowl. Slowly whisk in the oil to emulsify the vinaigrette. Mix in the grated cheese and finely chopped walnuts; do try to include both of these in the vinaigrette since they give it a rich full flavor. The vinaigrette will be fairly thick.
Taste the vinaigrette. Add salt, to taste if necessary. If it is not acidic enough, then add a little bit of the reserved lemon juice to taste (often I end up using the juice from a whole lemon).
The vinaigrette can be made up to a few days beforehand. Store separately from the salad ingredients.
Prepare the Salad Ingredients:
Trim the stems from the fennel and remove the outer layers; save the fronds for another usage. Cut the fennel bulb in lengthwise in half (from top to bottom). Shave the fennel widthwise into paper-thin slices using a mandolin; the slices should be thin but not too thin–they should still be crunchy.
Either rip the leaves of each radicchio wedge into bite sized pieces or thinly slice crosswise.
If using French radishes, cut them into thin slices with a mandoline.
The salad ingredients can be kept prepared for a few hours and perhaps up to 1 day in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. Keep the fennel and radicchio unprepared to keep them fresh for longer, and prepare just before serving.
Toss the salad ingredients with some of the vinaigrette just before serving. Adjust the amount of salad vinaigrette that you need to taste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Use a vegetable peeler to shave the cheese into curls. Garnish with cheese curls and toasted walnuts; do try to use both garnishes since they emphasize the cheese and walnut flavors in the vinaigrette.
Optionally you can top the salad with 1 poached egg per person.