WINTER SALAD WITH SWEET ROASTED ONIONS, CRUSHED HAZELNUTS & BAROLO DRESSING
“Learning to enjoy a range of bitter leaves is a really important part of educating your palate and exploring a whole new dimension of flavours. Instead of thinking about bitter as a negative, we riff off it here by teaming it with the sweetness of roasted onions, the sourness of vinegar and the satisfying crunch of nuts.”
Total time 1 hour 20 minutes, plus cooling
INGREDIENTS • 6 red onions • 1 bulb of garlic • ½ bunch fresh thyme (15g/½oz) • 100g/4oz blanched hazelnuts • Olive oil • 600g/1lb 5oz mixed bitter leaves such as chicory, radicchio, Castelfranco, Treviso, dandelions
For the dressing
• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard • Extra virgin olive oil • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1. Turn the oven on to full whack (240°C, 470°F, Gas 9). Put the unpeeled onions in a snug-fitting dish and roast for 1 hour or until soft and slightly burnt. After 30 minutes, halve the garlic bulb across the middle and add to the dish. Toss the thyme sprigs and hazelnuts in a little olive oil and sprinkle over the onions for the last 5 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.
2. Trim and separate the bitter leaves (I like to take a bit of pride in this and prep each leaf depending on its size – tear up the big ones, leave the little ones whole).
3. For the dressing, squeeze the roasted garlic into a bowl (discarding the skins) and mash well, then mix in the mustard and a pinch of sea salt. Whisking constantly, drizzle in 6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, then, still whisking, add the vinegar. Taste to perfect it to your requirements as it might need extra vinegar.
4. Squeeze the sweet onions out of their crispy skins into a serving bowl, breaking them up a bit as you go. Season with salt and black pepper then drizzle over the dressing. Top with the bitter leaves, tossing with your fingertips until beautifully dressed. Crush the hazelnuts in a pestle and mortar until fairly fine then scatter over the salad.