Wednesday, April 17, 2013

San Diego Farmers Market: Chicory Salad with Mushrooms, Asparagus and Radishes in a Black Truffle Lemon Vinaigrette

I feel like telling everyone about this salad for the Spring and even the Summer. It's my new favorite salad and it's a total accident that I made it. It was an attempt at using up all the wonderful fresh vegetables and salad greens that were on hand in the fridge the night I was asked to make a salad for Pizza night.

San Diego has wonderful local farms like most of California. In fact the produce is so fresh and wonderful it's no wonder that salads as a meal became a thing in California. So the CSA that my friends belong to drops off a box of veggies every Friday on the doorstep! I mean gorgeous stuff. Leeks the size of your head. Garlic chives, lettuces and greens, mushrooms and root veggies in variety and quality so fresh it's amazing! I cooked two meals while I was out there and each time had use of this wonderful produce.

So one evening, actually my last, we decided to make a salad to go along with the Pizza that we were getting from a wonderful local place known as the Hut. Yes funny! But really local fresh and delicious. So for the salad I opened the fridge and found the following ingredients. Giant white mushrooms, fresh asparagus, chicory, and red and black radishes. I loved these ingredients because they played off the earthy flavors of some and the spicy almost picante flavors of others. They created contrast and visual interest. Layers of green with soft white and brilliant red and deep black accents. I also found for the dressing lemons, california slivered roasted almonds and some wonderful walnut and Black Truffle oils. So armed with these few ingredients I made a salad that even with out any dairy ( and you know how I love cheese ) was so wonderful! I know that cause the entire bowl disappeared. That and the pizza!

Of course I can't leave out the setting for this meal. Tom and George have a pool and a table out back on a lovely concrete lanai. As well as a little sitting area and fire pit. How wonderful it was to eat great food and share great drink around such an amazing table with built in mood lighting and flickering candles and then relax around a a fire in the cool dry evening air later on. Heaven!

So here's the recipe for the salad. Enjoy it this spring when the asparagus is at it's peak and all summer while available. The colors of the veggies and sharpness of the flavors with the rich oils contrast wonderfully.  While I know it's not really original, it is delicious! And that's really the only kind of food I want to cook. You know the kind people want to eat! Enjoy Ya'll!!

Chicory Salad with Mushrooms, Asparagus and Radishes in a Black Truffle Lemon Vinaigrette

For the Salad:

2 small heads of Chicory cut into 1/4 inch chiffonade whole head chopped down to the stems
1 1/2 pounds large white mushrooms sliced
2 small bunches asparagus cooked on high in the microwave for about 5 to 7 mins each or blanched for 8 mins stove top and shocked in cold water with ice ( either method requires cold water to stop the cooking process) Then cut into 1 to 11/2 inch pieces
1 bunch of red radishes thinly sliced
2 black radishes thinly sliced ( I used a mandoline)
1/3 cup slivered roasted almonds reserve about 2 tablespoons for garnish

For Dressing:

1/4 cup Walnut oil
3 to 4 tablespoons to taste of  fresh Black truffle oil ( note* if you like truffle flavor use white truffle oil it is MUCH stronger)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix well till combined

To Serve: 

In a large bowl combine all ingredients
Add dressing and season with more salt and pepper to your taste and toss
I add a little cracked pepper on top as a garnish and sprinkle the top with remaining almonds.

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