Spring has sprung here in Northern California. Not that we actually had a winter, mind you, since we are now in our 4th year of severe drought, without any signs of letting up. No rain, just bright sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s practically-every-single-day. For years. If it wasn’t so scary, and nature wasn’t clearly suffering so much, I would say “yeah, baby!”. But, sadly, the dryness has been very difficult on the land and its farmers. And since California grows the majority of the produce for the US, the implications for the future are troubling. I am hoping, and keeping my fingers crossed, that abundant rain will find its way to California next winter, and we can all finally breathe a sigh of relief.
With temperatures the way they have been, I have been craving lighter foods, including salads. So, today, I bring you my current favorite, a colorful burst of bitter flavors from the endives and radicchio, refreshingly sweetened by apples and blood oranges, and with just the right hint of interest from the black sesame seeds.
There are lots of bitter foods in this salad, all of which are incredibly good for us.
Radicchio is a leaf chicory with white and red leaves and a strong, bitter taste, especially when consumed raw. Part of the genus Cichorium, it is very high in antioxidants, and, along with other bitters, has long been prized in Asia for its ability to help ward off cancer by detoxifying the blood and neutralizing free radicals. Rich in inulin, radicchio also balances blood sugar levels, and its high fiber content improves digestion and supports a healthy weight.
Like radicchio, Belgian endives are in the same genus, and are also rich in inulin and antioxidants. White, with pale yellow or red tips, endives are sensitive to light and, with too much exposure, will become more bitter and green in the outer leaves. This is why they are grown in dark, moist environments to preserve their delicate flavor.
Some people are genetically predisposed to be very sensitive to bitter flavors. If that is your case, try adding extra citrus (such as supremed oranges) and apples to further balance the bitterness.
Love and health!
- 2 Belgian endives, ends chopped off, thinly sliced
- 1/2 small radicchio, sliced in half, cored, thinly sliced
- 1 small celeriac, peeled, diced small
- 2 apples, cored, diced small
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped dill
- pinch fleur de sel (or sea salt)
- 2 blood oranges, peeled, supremed, each segment chopped into 2-3 pieces
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, for garnish
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons blood orange juice
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- pinch sea salt
- Whisk together the olive oil, blood orange juice, lime juice and sea salt.
- Set aside.
- Mix together the endives, radicchio, celeriac, apples, dill and fleur de sel.
- Drizzle on the dressing and mix well.
- Top with the oranges and walnuts. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds.
- Serve immediately.