Sunday, April 3, 2011

Radicchio salad with lemon and olives

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All you parents will understand the surge of joy, mixed with a twinge of guilt, that goes with the words "date night." Organized couples book a babysitter once a week and stick to a schedule. We're not that organized. Our date nights are occasional at best, and when a few months have rolled by without one, we can tell.

Of course we love our children - of course! And of course our time with them is precious and fleeting and limited. But take it from us, kids, you want your parents to have date nights. Parents need time to recharge and reconnect without having to worry whether you'll overhear or see something you shouldn't.

It's spring break, and the kids are visiting my mom on the East coast. Two working parents + two weeks of spring break = thank goodness for Grandma. The kids and Grandma are having a great time. Guess what? So are we. Because we've got a solid week of date nights.

On our first date night we walked the mile down to fashionable Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice. We ended up having dinner at The Tasting Kitchen, a restaurant I'd been wanting to try. My pasta was fine, and Michael's pork loin was really good, but what blew me away was the radicchio salad. The slightly bitter magenta radicchio was shredded, tossed with a few smashed green Lucques olives and parmesan shavings, and dressed with a light lemony vinaigrette. It was astonishingly simple. I should have ordered two and passed on the bucatini. Next time I'll know.

Here's my version of that pure, delicious radicchio salad. Look for radicchio in the produce section near the lettuce; it looks like a small red cabbage, bright magenta with very white veins and core.

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Radicchio salad with lemon and olives
This simple salad uses radicchio, an Italian salad vegetable in the chicory family. Don't skimp on the salt - it cuts the bitterness of the radicchio.
1 head radicchiojuice of 1 lemon3 Tbsp olive oil15 green olives, preferably Lucques variety, cut into quarters lengthwise1 ounce (approx.) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler into thin strips salt and pepper to taste
Peel the outer leaves off the radicchio if they look bruised or damaged. Cut the radicchio in half through the core, then remove the core by cutting a little "v" around it and pulling it out. Cut the radicchio into fine shreds, about 1/4 inch wide. Wash the shredded radicchio in very cold water, then dry it thoroughly. (I prefer a salad spinner for this, but wrapping it in a towel and swinging it around above your head is much more dramatic and works just as well.)Put the dried radicchio in a salad bowl. Squeeze over the lemon and drizzle on the olive oil; toss thoroughly. Add the olives, cheese, salt and pepper and toss again. Taste and adjust to suit your preferences. I like my salad very heavy on the lemon; if you like yours milder, start by squeezing over half the lemon and work up from there. Don't skimp on the salt - even with the salty olives and cheese, you need it to balance the bitterness of the radicchio.Serve immediately as a first course or a light lunch.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings


Stephanie said...

We had our first date day today in really long time and it was wonderful. We both missed our daughter but it was so nice to reconnect as a couple.

Cookin' Canuck said...

It's amazing how such a simple dish can end up being the star of the dinner. Lovely salad!

online memorial said...

Seems delicious, gona try it! Thanks for the tip ;)

Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. said...

This looks awesome! I love radicchio!

Nutmeg Nanny said...

It's such beautiful salad! Perfect start to any meal :)

Jane said...

What a wonderful salad. I love it's colors and would love to have it as part of our meal. It's bound to whet everyone's appetite.

Btw, such an earthy meal could only come from a person who loves earth. Please check out this video for tips on how to help the earth:

Mardi Michels said...

Absolutely lovely looking (and, I bet, tasting) salad. Radicchio is one of my favourite salad leaves!

Marly said...

Love this simple salad with wonderful flavors. I think I could eat that whole bowlful!

showfoodchef said...

Love the vibrant feel of that salad. And, I know just what ya mean about the date nights - so important. We try to have "mini-moons" where we go away for one night, even if it's in town only, and talk to each other without even going out for a movie - just face each other and connect. We both agree, those times are vital. Nice post!

Marcis Gasuns said...

Yeah, a beautiful appetizer this salad is!

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