When it comes to the world of leafy greens, the list is quite extensive.
First there is the full array of lettuces such as romaine, butter, iceberg and red leaf, as well other common greens such as spinach, kale, cabbage, beet greens, mustard greens, watercress, micro-greens and collard greens. Within these general categories there are then dozens of varieties within, all offering a wide range of flavors and textures.
The fall and winter are my favorite time to enjoy this diverse selection of locally harvested leafy greens from our local fields, where they’re vibrant and crisp from the cool weather and loaded with nutrients.
Another general category of leafy greens that starts to take shape this time of year falls under the chicory category.
Known for their naturally bitter presence, leafy chicory is generally enjoyed as a main salad ingredient, often dressed with an acidic based dressing to help balance the flavor.
Generally, the younger the greens are harvested, the less bitter they tend to be, but their intensity can really vary from variety to variety.
On hand this past Saturday from Jacob Grant’s Roots Farm was an abundance of certified organic chicory varieties that included treviso, bel fiore, frisée and escarole.
This week I prepared a fresh chicory salad paired with seasonal fuyu persimmons, Fuji apples and walnuts. I topped the salad with a homemade lime-balsamic vinaigrette.
This salad has simple ingredients with a great balance of flavors and textures.
Chicory Greens and Persimmon Salad
2-3 varieties of chicory heads rinsed, dried and chopped
1 fuyu persimmon. Cut into thin rounds, sounds sliced in half
1 medium Fuji apple, cut into this slices
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Optional: 1/2 jalapeño or Serrano chili, cut into very thin rounds.
For the dressing:
Juice from 1 lime
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons good quality and/or aged balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, well minced
1 teaspoon honey
Thoroughly whisk together all dressing ingredients before using.
For the salad, toss the chicory greens with about 2-3 tablespoons of your salad dressing to coat well. Then add remaining ingredients and toss the entire salad together.
Add additional salad dressing as desired to taste and serve in separate bowls.
Yield: Serves about 4 side salads depending on the amount of greens used.