Before I met Derek, he used to eat frequently at Cafe Sam, in Pittsburgh. One of his favorite dishes was a radicchio, arugula, and endive salad served with feta cheese and hard boiled eggs. I was planning to try to replicate this salad, and bought all the ingredients to do so, but as I was checking out at the Turkish grocery store near my house, one of the “seasonal fruits” on display at the checkout stand caught my eye.
A few years ago I went to the Vegetarian Summerfest with my friend Annette, and we had a blast. One of my most distinctive memories from the summerfest is of Dr. Michael Greger asking us “What’s by far the healthiest citrus fruit?”. But no one in a room full of nutrition buffs could answer the question. His answer, it turns out, was the kumquat. He argued that it’s the healthiest because you eat the whole thing, rather than discarding the pith and peel like with other citrus fruits. According to Greger, the bitter flavors in the pith and peel come from a multitude of uber-healthy substances. Greger exhorted us to never eat another lemon, lime, or orange without first zesting the fruit, and adding the zest to our food. I can’t recall what he said to do with the zest, but I imagine it could be good in yogurt, smoothies, rice dishes, breakfast cereal–even in tea or ice water! I was pretty good about zesting all my citrus for a while, but eventually I forgot all about his citrus chastisements. Until, that is, this week, when I saw those kumquats at City Basaar. I bought a handful to bring home, and decided to ditch the feta and egg in this salad in favor of thinly sliced kumquats.
Four years ago: the best lemon bars ever
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- pinch of salt
- grind of pepper
- 1 small head radicchio, leaves torn
- 3 cups arugula leaves
- 2 heads belgian endive, leaves sliced
- 6 kumquats, very thinly sliced
- Whisk together the first four ingredients, to make a vinaigrette.
- Wash and thoroughly dry the greens. Place them in a large salad bowl, and toss with the vinaigrette.
- Divide among individual plates, top with the sliced kumquats, and serve immediately.
The greens measurements given above were taken from a recipe for a similar salad in Jack Bishop’s cookbook the Complete Italian Vegetarian Kitchen. However, I didn’t follow Bishop’s balsamic vinaigrette recipe, which calls for 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar, and 2 tsp. red wine vinegar. I like a vinegary dressing, so I added more vinegar and cut the amount of olive oil.
My balsamic vinegar was not very aged. I’m sure this would be better with a better balsamic, since the bitter greens really need something sweet for contrast.
The kumquats added a nice citrusy tang, and a little variety in color. The salad was quite nice as it was, but it could definitely have used a little something else. Maybe something sweet, like currants or raisins, or fresh orange or grapefruit slices? A few toasted walnuts wouldn’t have been out of place either.
I really love the creamy/crispy texture of the endive. I can’t believe I’ve never bought it before this month, when I made Berley’s endive/beet/potato salad.