I am willing to bet that while most of you are googling Thanksgiving recipes for Thursday, you’re not looking up salads. Am I right? Did call you out on shunning the greens? I guess there are plenty of other days in the year to eat salad, so maybe this is why it generally gets overlooked the last Thursday of each November. Who wants salad, when there’s turkey, and stuffing and soup and pie? Besides, November isn’t exactly a month when you wake up and think, “Salad! Now that’s an idea!” – salad’s more of a summer pastime. Stews and soups replace no-cook meals. Fall’s rule of thumb is more – if you can cook it slow and long, you’ve got yourself a winner.
However, this is where I have to say, “Yes, but…” and tell you that this salad here is – well, it is beyond what you’d expect. Simply put – you must make it. For this Thanksgiving, if you can. It’s my new favorite salad and will carry me through months of winter when my crunchy green vegetable consumption plummets. And if you think I’ve been waxing too poetic about too many a recipe, you don’t have to take my word for it. Deb of Smitten Kitchen and Kristin over at The Kitchen Sink have been swooning over this salad as well.
And this salad is definitely swoon-worthy. Hearty escarole, crunchy pickled onions, pungent pecorino. Oh, and did I mention hazelnuts? I did just write about them, but so what, can’t they get a nod twice in one month? There’s just something about this salad, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’ve fallen for it line, hook and sinker. It’s great as the main event, or a side, or as the main event, or.. wait, I think I’m repeating myself because, well, as I type this to you, my belly full of red coconut curry (more on that after Thanksgiving!), all I want to eat, right now, right this minute, is this salad.
The above endorsements aside, it’s not often that people asks for salad seconds and then thirds, and when you tell them there isn’t any more, pout. And then bring up that salad a week later at another dinner. I mean, it’s salad; it’s health food. It isn’t the sort of thing that inspires a fervent following. Except, it does. Salad groupies, anyone? Sign me up!
Escarole Salad with Pickled Onions
Adapted from Anne Burell
For the Pickled Onions:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 to 3 really good shots hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1 red onion, sliced into very thin rings
For the Escarole Salad:
1/2 cup grated pecorino
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
1 head escarole, washed, spun dry, cut into bite size pieces
High-quality extra-virgin olive oil
To make the Pickled Onions:
In a small bowl, combine red wine vinegar with 1/2 cup of cold tap water. Stir in salt, the sugar and the hot sauce. Add the sliced onions and let sit for at least one hour.
To make the Escarole Salad:
Combine the pecorino, hazelnuts and parsley in the food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. Toss together the escarole, hazelnut mixture and some of the pickled red onions and dress with some of the pickling liquid and olive oil. Season with salt.