S&M Caesar

I don’t normally think of salad as something that puts hair on my chest. I don’t really want hair on my chest, truth be told, but if I did, I’d eat this salad frequently.

My husband called this an S&M salad – it brings on a little pain, but the good kind of pain, the kind you just don’t want to stop. It’s basically a twist on caesar; I made it with some radicchio di Treviso that I found at the University District farmer’s market (insert squeal of delight here).

If you’ve never had it, treviso is a green with attitude. It looks soft and innocent, peach-like with the fuzzy hairs it grows along the spine of each leaf, like romaine with a fabulous new hair color. But even the smallest taste reveals an intensely bitter lettuce with plenty of spice to it; if romaine is pop music, treviso is death metal.

But damn it makes a fine-looking caesar salad. I’m all for good doses of garlic and anchovy in my caesar, so they’re here, but so is mascarpone cheese, a sweet soother for the bitterness of the greens. Try the dressing on romaine first, if you want, then move into the Treviso (or another green with some bitter punch) as you dare.

S&M Caesar 2

Recipe for S&M Caesar Salad
Recipe 126 of 365

Radicchio di Treviso (often just called “treviso” here) is purplish Italian radicchio that grows in a straight, bullet-shaped head like romaine. But unlike romaine, it has a bitter, pungent flavor. Here’s a salad that pairs its strong taste with an equally strong, supercreamy Caesar-style dressing, made with mascarpone instead of Parmesan cheese to soothe the garlic burn a bit. Use treviso if you can find it; otherwise, romaine (cold or grilled) is a perfect substitute.

Make this a full meal for two by adding a bit of grilled chicken or a bit of cooked pancetta and a few slices of good, crusty bread.

TIME: 15 minutes
MAKES: 2 dinner salads or 4 side salads

1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces radicchio di Treviso, radicchio, romaine, or chicory
2 anchovies (from a jar), optional
1 large egg yolk (preferably organic)
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

Coarsely chop the garlic. Sprinkle with the salt and let sit for a few minutes; the salt will soften the garlic and make it easier to chop finely.

Meanwhile, trim and wash the lettuce, leaving the long leaves intact for a fancier-looking salad, if you wish.

Place the anchovies (if using) on top of the garlic and salt, and chop the three together until they form a paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl, add the egg yolk and the mascarpone cheese, and stir with a fork to combine. Add the vinegar and whisk until blended, then add the oil in a slow, steady stream while you whisk, stirring until completely incorporated. Season the dressing to taste with pepper and additional salt, if necessary, and drizzle the dressing over the lettuce. Serve immediately.

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Filed under farmer's market, recipe, salad, vegetables

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