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Let's talk about chicories. These sturdy, vibrant salad greens are incredible, hearty, sweet and slightly bitter. They hold up well to rich, earthy accoutrements and are also delicious seared and grilled. I love chicories and their incredible varieties never fail to inspire me. This week, I pulled this brown butter date vinaigrette from my recipe archives tossed fresh chicories, thinly slide fennel, crushed hazelnuts, grapes and parmesan into an memorable and delectable salad. The dressing is rich, nutty, sweet and nuanced. This salad would be great with any kind of nuts, cheese and fruit added to it. Pears, pecans, aged gouda, blue cheese, apples, and persimmons would all be welcome additions.
4 Tbsp butter
1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
6 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp Sherry, Apple Cider or Champagne Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1/2 cup water
1 cup chopped Sugar Loaf Chicory
1 cup chopped Radicchio
2 apples or pears, sliced thinly
1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts or pecans
1/4 cup grated aged gouda or parmesan
In a small pot over medium high heat, melt the butter until it bubbles and golden brown particles begin to settle in the bottom of the pot. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium high heat, sauté the sliced shallots in olive oil with a generous pinch of salt, stirring regularly until they are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the chopped dates and water and cook until the dates are very soft and tender.
Add the vinegar and transfer the shallot date mixture to a blender.
Blend on high until it form a smooth, light brown puree. Slowly stream in the melted brown butter until it is all incorporated.
Adjust seasoning to your liking use and salt and pepper.
Keep the vinaigrette at room temperature so the butter does not solidify. If you are keeping it in the fridge to use it again, warm it gently before using.
Combine the chicories, fennel and apples or pears (or both!) and toss them in the dressing. Taste for seasoning. Plate the salad in a large bowl and top with hazelnuts, cheese and freshly cracked pepper. Enjoy!
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