Just more than a year ago I discovered that I in fact liked radishes. That’s right,. for most of my 43 years of existence I didn’t like radishes and that’s why I think it’s important for people to always revisit foods they think they don’t like. I was at a New Year’s Eve party last year, found myself staring at the veggie platter and popping the usual raw veggies into my mouth. The radish entered my mouth, I liked it and had it not been for my open-mindedness, I would not be presenting this gorgeous salad for you.
We’re not using radishes themselves here but the greens. Here in the markets, bunches of radishes also come attached to the greens on top. These greens are perfectly edible and all they need is a through rinse and to be patted-dry (like any other salad greens). If you don’t have access to radish greens, you can always substitute arugala. What we’re going for here is the bitter component of your salad greens. Rounding out the mix are a mixture of white Romaine hearts and the green, flavourful ends of Romaine lettuce. Shame on you if you’d think I would use iceberg lettuce! The sweet end of the salad spectrum is red radicchio. If you can’t find it, a think shredded red cabbage will also work.
Rounding out the salad mix is fennel and the fronds that come with it. The fennel bulb has a mild licorice flavour and it has the crunch of celery. Fennel reminds me of some of the flavours I enjoyed when I visited the island of Crete this past summer, the origins of two ingredients I’m using in the salad today.
The first ingredient is a Mousto-Balsamic vinegar. This product will life your salads to new heights with it’s perfect combination of tangy balsamic vinegar and the grape must (juice) and hints of mint. The Mousto-Balsamic is not cheap but it’s also not out of reach of most budgets…a splurge you deserve.
The second ingredient is Greek extra-virgin olive oil, again from my friends at Nisos Importing. This Cretan olive oil is a single estate product from the Tsiriotakis’ family plot of olive trees near Chania. No pesticides, hand-picked and pressed on the same day.
The garnishes for this elegant salad are chopped walnuts and dried figs. There are no fresh figs in Canada, fig season in the Mediterranean is long-gone and it’s perfectly fine to be enjoying dried fruits at this time of year. Have you ever tried dried figs and walnuts together? Pop a dried fig and some shelled walnuts in your mouth….isn’t the flavour combo amazing? My family loves this combo and we offer it to guests during the upcoming Christmas holidays. This fig-walnut combo also plays well here in this salad.
Rounding out the garnishes is Feta cheese. This blog you are reading primarily features Greek food and therefore I’m going to use Greek Feta cheese. Not Bulgarian, not French and nothing that contains cow’s milk. If you’re in the US and Canada, there are Greek delis and markets across the country that sell Greek Feta cheese. Attention Costco shoppers…Dodoni Feta can be found there. Taste Feta the way it should taste!
The briny and tart Greek Feta, a hint of orange zest, a splash of Ouzo in the dressing to complement the sliced fennel, a spoon of Dijon mustard and some sea salt and fresh ground pepper to complete your dressing. I loved this salad and frankly I think I’ll make it again tonight!
Salad With Figs, Feta & Radish Greens
1 cup of radish greens (or any other peppery salad greens)
1 cup Romaine lettuce greens
1 cup endive or Romaine hearts, sliced
1 cup of Radicchio, sliced
1/2 cup of sliced Fennel bulb
1/2 cup diced dry igs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
150 Gr. Feta cheese. cubed
2 Tbsp. chopped fennel fronds
1 shallot (1/4 cup ) finely diced (or red onion)
4 Tbsp. Cretan Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tsp. orange zest
splash of Ouzo
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
good pinch of coarse sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
Approx. 1/2 cup Cretan olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
- In a large bowl, add your diced shallots, orange zest, Ouzo and balsamic vinegar and stir. Allow the shallots to steep in t he vinegar for at about 15 minutes. In the meantime, wash, rinse and pat-dry your salad greens and set aside. You may also use this time to gather your remaning ingredients and prepare your garnishes (walnuts, diced figs and cubed Feta).
- Now add the Dijon mustard into the bowl and whisk to blend in. Add coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper and continue to whisk while adding a slow and steady stream of olive oil until you’ve achieved a creamy and emulsified dressing. Adjust seasoning.
- Add your salad mixture to the dressing along with a squeeze of lemon juice and chopped fennel fronds. Toss the salad until well-coated and divide and serve. Top with chopped walnuts, diced dry figs and cubed Feta cheese.
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