Salads scream summer, right? Fresh-picked greens, juicy tomatoes, vibrant herbs, sweet corn… But don’t overlook salads during the winter months. Winter greens like endive and radicchio deliver great flavor and crunch, offering bitterness and bite. Layered with dried fruit, nuts, cheeses and cured meat, this anything-but-boring salad is complex and satisfying.
The key to making a salad great is assembling complementary, yet contrasting, textures and flavors. Heap torn lettuces like Boston bibb and red leaf in a bowl as your base and build from there, adding sliced radicchio for bitterness and sliced endive for crunch. Slice a carrot into ribbons over the bowl using a veggie peeler. Then, toss in some nuts – I use walnuts here, but you could use pecans, pistachios or even candied nuts for added complexity. Dried cherries (or cranberries or apricots) offer chewy sweet-tart flavor. The blue cheese’s creamy funk balances out the other elements, but if you don’t care for blues, try using fresh sheep’s or goat’s milk cheeses instead.
If you assembled the salad I just described and tossed it with some olive oil and vinegar, you’d be perfectly happy, but by adding crisped salami and a red-wine dressing, you’ll easily take this salad from good to great.
To crisp salami, simply bake the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet until the edges begin to get brown and curl, about 10 minutes. Allow the salami – here, I used Volpi's beautiful artisan Sopressa – to cool while you make the rest of the salad.
For the dressing, just reduce two cups of dry red wine down by about half. Allow the reduction to cool and then mix the wine reduction with salt and pepper, herbs of your choice, some Dijon mustard and good quality olive oil.
At this point, you may be asking yourself where the vinegar is. Rather than using vinegar, which is highly acidic, the wine reduction adds a bit of sharpness, but not so much that the dressing overwhelms the rest of this salad’s distinct flavors. A red-wine dressing isn’t the right choice for many salads, but it works beautifully here. Make more than you need and just stash it in a jar in the fridge – it will keep for a couple of weeks and can also be used as a sauce on roasted chicken or pork.
Emmy-winning host Cat Neville is the publisher of Feast Magazine and the producer of tasteMAKERS, which airs nationally on PBS. She has been in food media for about 20 years and when she’s not on the road, she can usually be found playing around with new flavors in her St. Louis kitchen.
Wine-Dressed Winter Salad with Crispy Salami and Dried Cherries
Recipe by Catherine Neville
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 4-oz package Volpi Sopressa
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- fresh or dry herbs, as you wish
- 2 cups mixed torn lettuces – Boston bibb, Romaine, red leaf, etc.
- 1 cup arugula
- 2 heads endive, sliced
- ½ cup chopped radicchio
- 1 carrot, ribboned with a veggie peeler
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup dried cherries
- ½ cup good quality blue cheese like Stilton
| Preparation | Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly distribute Volpi Sopressa slices. Bake in the oven until the edges begin to curl, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, in a small pan, simmer wine over medium-high heat until reduced by at least half. Pour half of the reduced wine into a jar with salt and pepper to taste. Add mustard, oil and any herbs you like – oregano, basil, tarragon, etc. – put a lid on the jar and shake until emulsified. Taste and adjust – if it needs more wine, add a bit more. Set aside.
In a salad bowl, arrange lettuces, arugula, sliced endive and radicchio, tossing to evenly distribute. Scatter walnuts and cherries on top. Break salami into shards and scatter on top and then crumble blue cheese over. Serve with red wine dressing on the side. Wonderful accompanied by warm bread and good quality butter.