This “Daddy’s Salad” is a labor of love. It is comprised of all those ingredients that my balding hunk of a husband adores: Escarole, radicchio, cucumber, feta cheese, kalamata olives and the ultimate ingredient, pan-fried chickpeas with a sprinkling of salt, pepper, paprika and cumin. This combination is all dressed up in an herb vinaigrette containing dill, parsley, salt, pepper, shallots, olive oil, sherry vinegar and touch of honey.
I watched daddy eat six servings of this salad last night directly from the salad bowl. And I made it again for lunch in order to tweak a few things, and he had another two servings! And I don’t think he will complain if I serve the leftovers from lunch for dinner.
I have a real salad obsession. OK, it is more of a compulsion. I generally think that salad making should not be left to the last minute, but practiced with care and precision. One should not feel she is eating a salad merely to get her vegetable servings in for the day or to fill her stomach up so that she doesn’t eat as much when the rest of the meal arrives. One should feel pleasure, not sacrifice, when eating a salad.
Store bought dressings are, with very limited exception, the enemy for me. I like to dress my own salads with homemade concoctions so that I ensure they properly balanced and aren’t overly dressed. And my goal is always to get every adult in the room to eat the salad, ensuring that enough people go back for seconds so that the bowl is nearly clean when the meal if over.
A few words about these winter greens. I will confess that I did notice that Deb Perelman was doing fried chickpeas this week so I did steal that idea. But instead of putting it on soup, I opted for tasty greens instead. Note: unless you want to get hit by a flying chickpea (it is not pleasant), I’d recommend keeping the lid on as you fry the chickpeas, stirring occasionally to ensure they are crisped all over. It takes a good 10 minutes to get them sufficiently browned and crispy.
It’s also good idea to keep the escarole to radicchio ratio to 2:1 or else the radicchio can be a little overpowering in the mix, in my opinion.
Be liberal with the herbs. Fresh herbs in wintertime seem almost unusual and thus should be front and center here.
I like this salad because the hearty greens can stand up to the dressing. It still tastes good a few hours later or for lunch the next day as leftovers.
I’ve called this Daddy’s Salad because I make salads all the time and daddy always eats them. He is always sweet and complimentary, telling me how much he loves them. But this salad is different. I really went out of my way here to deliver a salad that was better (for him) than any salad he could have dreamt up.
It probably isn’t my favorite salad because it doesn’t have nuts in it and there is no mustard in the dressing. But I knew that daddy would devour it, loving every bite. And he did. Hence, it is “Daddy’s Salad.”
Author: Julie du Pont
Recipe type: Salad
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
- 1 small head of radicchio, cleaned and chopped
- 1 medium head of escarole (or ½ large), cleaned and chopped
- ½ cup kalamata olives
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- ½ large cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 1 can chickpeas (14.5 oz)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp dill, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp shallot, minced
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Clean and chop the radicchio and escarole by soaking and spinning in a salad spinner or wrapping up in a towel and placing in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Add dried greens to a salad bowl.
- Add olives, feta cheese and cucumbers to the bowl.
- Meanwhile, drain and pat dry the chickpeas. Toss with the cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.
- Heat 1 to 1½ tbsp olive oil in a skillet until sizzling. Add the chickpeas and fry covered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that the chickpeas are crisped all over.
- Combine the olive oil, herbs, shallots, salt and pepper and whisk in the honey until mixed.
- Dress the salad lightly and serve.
Julie du Pont is a Darien resident, mom and lawyer. She blogs about food and entertaining at weekend table. and on Darien Patch. See also the "Darien Food Blogs" and "Darien Food & Drink" topics pages