Thanks to Domenica Marchetti for the delicious dressing recipe below, not to mention a masterclass on how to prep a head of puntarelle should you ever luck into one. Feel free to add a pinch of chilli flakes along with the anchovies if you like, though that would be not at all alla Romana.
Chicory Salad with Anchovy Dressing
For four generous bowls
- Two heads of white (witloof) chicory
- 1 large clove of garlic
- A pinch of sea-salt flakes
- 4 anchovy fillets, drained
- 2 tbsp white or red wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp of your best extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Half-fill a large bowl with cold water and drop in a dozen ice cubes.
Separate your chicory heads into leaves, wash well and slice lengthwise into thinnish strips. As you go, plunge them into the iced water. When you've finished, leave for an hour or so. It won't curl up like puntarelle, but this step really does restore crunch, especially if your chicory has been hanging around expectantly for a day or so and is ready to give up the ghost.
Make the dressing now to give it a chance to infuse. Quick and convenient as a blender or chopper may be, the best gadgets, both for texture and taste, are a pestle, a mortar and a critical eye. First pound the garlic with the salt until it's a mush, then mash in the anchovies. Next, stir in the vinegar and finally, add your oil very gradually in a thin stream. It will emulsify to a lovely, thick dressing. Taste and season with black pepper.
Drain the chicory strips and dry thoroughly, firstly in a salad spinner, then wrapped in a clean tea-towel. Don't be impatient, or you'll dilute the dressing. Finally shake the strips into a salad bowl and let them air-dry.
When you're ready to serve and not before, anoint the chicory generously with the dressing which may need another whisk to recombine it. Finish with a grinding of black pepper.
Serve on its own (it's that good) with warm crusty bread, or as a lively partner for lamb, steak or grilled fish.
Vouvray Demi-Sec 'La Croix Picaussée' Domaine Francis Mabille 2014 would go well here, chilli and all, as, indeed will any of the chenins in this section, with the exception of the much drier Chinon Blanc. See also The Society's Fine Wine Hub for details of our anniversary range from Huet.
> Find more recipes for Vouvray here
Janet Wynne Evans