Happy May Day! The day of leaving baskets of flowers on neighbors’ doorsteps, dancing round the Maypole, celebrating Beltane with feasts and bonfires or marching in a workers parade if you lived in communist bloc countries, pre-1991. For me, May Day has always had a special quality to it, the real turning of the clock to springtime in so much that there were flowers blooming in our Connecticut home, enough to make a few May Day baskets. But now May Day usually signals the real beginning of spring vegetables and fruits. That was how this salad happened upon my table.
Radicchio is not a vegetable that everyone is clamoring to taste. Unless it is really, really, really fresh, its bitterness can put people off. (That is one reason my garden includes some radicchio so I can sample it freshly picked.) But this salad does not shy away from the potential bitterness that can be radicchio; it embraces it. Pairing it with sweet pears and crunchy apples with mint and parsley this salad zips and sings through your taste buds!
Have you read Smitten Kitchen? It is a extra special food blog – great writing, gorgeous photos and all done in a Manhattan style kitchen, whose dimensions I can only guess at. Her palate is pretty close to mine so many of her posts are bookmarked in my to-make file. This radicchio, apple and pear salad has been there for some time, with many false starts on my part to make it. But it finally made it to the plate, and wow what a salad!
Unfortunately my mayonnaise wasn’t as stiff as the original one pictured on Smitten Kitchen, but it still tasted delicious. I halved the recipe, still making enough for two generous portions. Taking the liberty of adding some chopped walnuts and creamy gorgonzola made it a hefty lunch salad that only needed some crusty bread to accompany it. Delicious!
Radicchio, Apple and Pear Salad
1 granny smith apple
1 bosc pear (or other type pear)
1 head radicchio
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons mint, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise (make your own)*
2 tablespoons creme fraiche (make your own)
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, cut in half
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon gorgonzola, crumbled (optional)
*If you are making homemade mayonnaise, do that first and refrigerate. This can be done several days in advance if you desire. If you follow the link I created, do not add the garlic to create mayonnaise instead of aioli.
In small bowl juice 1/2 of lemon and add shallot and salt and allow to meld for at least 5 minutes. Quarter apple and pear and core and slice as finely as possible (you can use a mandoline, I prefer my chef knife.) Toss into large mixing bowl. Cut radicchio in half and remove core and either break apart into bite size pieces or shred into 1 inch slivers. Add to mixing bowl along with parsley and mint. In small bowl with macerating shallot and lemon juice, add mayonnaise, creme fraiche and buttermilk and whip into thick dressing. Season with salt and pepper and add 1 tablespoon at a time to salad and toss well to coat lightly. Add walnuts and gorgonzola if desired and serve.
Recipes currently inspiring me: