In the summer, salads are a no-brainer. You have amazing tomatoes for Caprese, you can throw berries or peaches or nectarines together with some arugula, the salads almost make themselves. But as we roll into the winter, I start looking blankly into my vegetable drawer. If only I’d planned ahead, maybe some roasted beets. Apple and celery? Raw lacinato kale salad…but we had that twice this week already. You’ve been there, right? So what to do? Insalata tricolore…the salad of three colors.
So, right, it’s red, white and green for the Italian flag. And it’s dead simple. With the green, you’ve got some options.
But first the red — the radicchio. I re-discovered how wonderful radicchio is thanks to this grilled butternut and radicchio pizza over at the First Mess. This pizza is, in two words, ridiculously delicious. Seriously. And the radicchio slaw, with just a simple lemon vinaigrette, makes a delicious winter salad on its own. The slight bitterness of the radicchio is countered by the lemon and the vegetal Italian parsley. So good.
What I think of as insalata tricolore is radicchio, endive and arugula. But, if like me, you forgot the arugula, and there’s kale practically falling out of the refrigerator right now, a little finely chopped kale makes a good seasonal stand-in. I’d rather go lacinato kale, but I left my last leaves out on the counter last night (oh, don’t ask!!), so it was standard curly kale that came tumbling out of the icebox.
There’s hardly a recipe here, you want about 3 cups of vegetable depending on what you like most. My radicchio this time was the longer-leafed variety that looks more like a small romaine, so to serve 2 generously, I did 4 leaves of radicchio, 1 small endive and 1 large leaf of curly green kale cut into half inch strips. Use a vegetable peeler to peel a few small strips of parmesan over the top and dress with a lemon vinaigrette. Go with the one for the slaw above, or this one. Add a little salt and pepper, or red pepper flakes, if you like.
The curly green kale is tougher than the lacinato, and doesn’t wilt as much, so dress the salad and let it sit for 15 minutes. The kale will still be firm.