February 18, 2014

It's Been a Journey

It's daunting to sit down again and type.  To think of everything that has happened since my last post, all the excuses I have for abandoning this space, all the food that's been cooked, everything that has changed and all that hasn't.  I think about that, and then I try to figure out how best to re-enter this little world.  I'm drawing a blank.  A big fat blank.

But I check the stats every so often and it seems, however incomprehensibly, there are still those of you who still stumble upon these pages of my past.  I get the occasional nudges from friends or family who'd like to see this blog resurrected - how is it that you haven't given up entirely?  I didn't mean to leave you hanging.

So, let's give this one more go, yeah?

I thought about dredging up some older recipes and just playing a bit of catch up, but that idea poses a few problems.  1) I pretty much stopped taking pictures of what I was making except for a few random Instagram snaps.  I'm not trying to recreate past social media feeds in this space.  2) There's a very high chance that the recipes I really want to tell you about would be seasonally inappropriate at this juncture.  Zucchini noodles in the dead of February?   I wish.  You'll just have to wait.  In the meantime I offer you a compromise.  A new-to-me recipe with an iPhone photo!  (Baby steps, okay.)

Radicchio, and chicories in general, are fast becoming one of my favorite winter ingredients.  They bring a refreshing pop of color when we're buried in a sea of earth tones and deep green at the market.  Their bitterness balances out the hearty, fatty dishes we crave as the temperatures drop.  And if you've never grilled radicchio or escarole before you're truly missing out.  Their sharp bite of bitter softens and new flavors of smoke and caramelized sweetness come out to play.

Here, however, there is just raw and vibrant radicchio.  We want it's natural bite, it's bitterness tamed by creamy cannellini beans, rotisserie chicken and the bright snap of a parsley-lemon vinaigrette.  A few stalks of thinly sliced celery and some scallions for good measure and dinner is served.  It's preparation is simple, but the flavors are not.  It's earthy, but lively.  This is the kind of salad you keep diving your fork into, bite after bite, until there's nothing left on the plate.  This will get you out of your winter rut.

White Bean and Radicchio Salad with Parsley Vinaigrette
adapted from Bon Apetit, April 2012

I used rotisserie chicken because I had some that needed using up but the original recipe calls for a high quality tuna packed in olive oil, either would be great, really.  Whatever you do, don't leave one or the other out, it'll mess up the perfect balance this salad has going on.  Also switched up the vinaigrette to make it a little more acidic and less heavy on the olive oil.

serves 4

1 cup (packed) flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt & pepper

1 medium head of radicchio, cored, leaves coarsely torn
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
2 celery stalks, sliced thinly on an extreme diagonal
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Pulse parsley, oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic in a blender until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place radicchio and celery in a large bowl; drizzle with a few tablespoons parsley vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season radicchio to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter, spreading out in an even layer. Arrange cannellini beans and shredded chicken and sliced scallions on top of the radicchio. Drizzle with a little more vinaigrette if desired.