Bitter Salad with Winter Fruit : A Vibrant Dish for Seasonal Feasts

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I made this salad for Thanksgiving last November, and plan to do so again this year - it's not exactly a classic, but it's an easy one to throw together and provides a nice contrast to the roast turkey, gravy, and heavy sides that usually take over my plate.

Pungent raw fennel and bitter radicchio leaves become delicate when tossed with sweet orange segments, pear slices, and a simple vinaigrette with a good amount of honey. Pumpkin seeds provide some nuttiness, and the fennel fronds and parsley brighten and balance everything out.

Last year's Thanksgiving was celebrated in Melbourne. As that falls over the start of summer down here, we roasted our turkey in the barbecue and kept the sides a bit lighter than the standard spread. Some bottles of our favorite Australian Chardonnays and Pinot Noir got us through the meal. This year, I'll be back in Michigan for Thanksgiving, and look forward to the more traditional feast, accompanied by full-bodied Cabernets and Syrah (and of course the two-buck chuck that will inevitably make its way to the table). In any case, I think a side like this one will be very appropriate, as it's a beautiful way to sneak some crisp, fresh winter produce into an otherwise (wonderfully) indulgent meal.


Bitter Salad of Radicchio + Fennel with Orange + Pear

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 

1 tablespoon honey

1 navel orange, peeled and segmented, membranes and peel reserved

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt 

pepper 

1 small head radicchio, leaves removed, washed, and dried

1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and shaved thinly using a mandolin, fronds reserved

1/4 cup parsley leaves

1 pear, cored and thinly sliced

3 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

In a small bowl, combine vinegar, honey, juice from orange membranes and peel, salt, and pepper; whisk in olive oil.

On a large platter, toss radicchio, shaved fennel, and parsley. Arrange orange segments and pear slices over salad, drizzle with dressing, and top with fennel fronds and pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.