A CULTURE OF SUSTAINABLE FOOD IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
Insalata Tricolore Reimagined
December 9, 2014
Insalata Tricolore appears on just about every Italian menu one can find. It usually features a combination of arugula, Belgian endive, and radicchio, tossed in vinaigrette and grated Parmesan cheese. The salad, while totally pleasant, is rarely particularly interesting. Given the confines of salad creativity in the winter, when most fruits and fresh vegetables are out of season, we hearken back to the tricolore, looking for a way to breathe life into an old hat.
Where fruit is concerned, pomegranate is the unimported saving grace of winter. Its acidity and bitterness infuse food with brightness, punch, and originality. The base of pomegranate concentrate in the dressing lends seasonality to the tricolore, transporting it out of the realm of constant ubiquity.
The light sweetness of the pomegranate dressing harmonizes with the bitterness of the arugula, endive, and radicchio, but also finds delicate balance with the mild and creamy burrata cheese. Burrata, an Italian mozzarella infused with a cream center, is an amoeba given a spine transplant by the crunchy pistachio. The buttery, salty pistachio, a Sicilian favorite, is the essential donor that renders this salad complete.
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs. pomegranate concentrate (see In Advance note below)
juice of ½ large lemon
1 ½ -2 ½ tsp. honey
2 generous pinches sea salt
2 grinds fresh black pepper
Equal parts: Arugula, Belgian Endive and Radicchio, cut, rinsed, and spun dry in a salad spinner
15-20 roasted, salted pistachio nuts (shelled)
8 oz. burrata cheese
salt and pepper to taste
In Advance: For the pomegranate extract, boil 12 ounces of pure, unsweetened 100% pomegranate juice (such as Pom) down to 2 ounces (1/6th its volume). This should yield a thick, bittersweet syrup when reduced. Chill syrup in the refrigerator until cold or overnight.
Whisk 3 tablespoons of chilled pomegranate concentrate, along with all remaining ingredients until viscous and well combined, starting with 1 ½ tsp. honey and adding an additional honey, if necessary, to eliminate any bitterness. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
Chop pistachio nuts until medium coarse and set aside. Cut burrata cheese into 5 or 6 soft rounds and set aside. In a large bowl, toss arugula, Belgian endive, and radicchio in enough dressing to coat lightly, reserving 2 or so tablespoons of dressing. Grind additional sea salt and pepper to taste and toss again. Transfer to serving bowl or platter. Distribute rounds of burrata cheese on top without spreading. With a teaspoon, drizzle reserved dressing on the burrata rounds. Sprinkle chopped pistachio nuts on the salad, concentrating on the burrata rounds first, then scattering the rest all over. Grind additional pepper on burrata rounds, if desired. Serve immediately.