Citrus fruits have long been associated with human health. They are high in vitamin C and flavonoids like limonene, which has demonstrated efficacy against various cancers in preclinical models. Perhaps equally important, citrus fruits lend tangy complexity to sweet and savory dishes alike.
Unique among the citrus family, kumquats are eaten whole. The rind is where the sweetness is, the flesh is tart or even sour, and eaten together they provide a burst of flavor like no other. The flavonoids in the peel have been shown to mediate stress-related cytotoxicity and promote natural killer cell activity in mice and human cell lines.
The recipe below was sent to CCSA as part of a series of emails from our resident chef, Dr. Linda Doody. She has been sharing her extensive collection of favorite recipes with friends, family, and the CCSA team as a means of maintaining connections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star – Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
New Winter Chicory Salad with Kumquats and Date Dressing
Food & Wine Magazine (December 2018)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 3 Tbsp fresh orange juice
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
- 2 cups kumquats, sliced into ⅛-inch rounds, seeds removed
- ½ cup dried pitted dates, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 Belgian endive leaves, sliced (~1 cup)
- (Belgian endive, a salad green of the chicory family, is a tightly wrapped cylindrical head, pale yellow in color, with a slightly bitter taste)
- 2 cups bright yellow frisée leaves
- (frisée [or curly endive], a salad green of the chicory family, looks like a tousled head of dark lacy ruffles sprouting from a pale-yellow core)
- 2 cups packed fresh arugula (arugula [or rocket], a salad green of the cruciferous family, is deep green in color with deep notches up and down both sides. It has a tart, peppery flavor)
- 1 cup packed fresh mizuna
- (mizuna [or Japanese mustard], a salad green of the cruciferous family, is a cross between arugula and mustard. It has feathery, serrated edges, a glossy surface, and a mild peppery taste. If not available, substitute arugula, young mustard greens, or tatsoi)
- 1 cup sliced Treviso or Chioggia radicchio
- (radicchio, a member of the chicory family, has a structural sturdiness and a distinct bitterness that balances the sweeter, more delicate lettuces with which it is often combined. Chioggia, the most common variety, grows in heads of wine-red leaves with bright white veins; Treviso grows in elongated, rather than round, heads)
- ½ cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, cut into thin strips (optional)
- ½ cup roasted salted pistachios
- 4 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, shaved with a Y-shaped vegetable peeler (~2 cups)
- To make the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, sherry vinegar, orange juice, shallot, 1 Tbsp kumquats, and 1 Tbsp dates until blended. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- Place remaining kumquats and dates in a large bowl. Reserve and set aside 6 Tbsp vinaigrette; drizzle remaining vinaigrette over the kumquat mixture. Add endive, frisée, arugula, mizuna, radicchio, parsley, and mint (if using); gently toss to coat. Season with remaining ½ teaspoon salt and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- To serve, divide salad evenly among 6 plates; drizzle 1 Tbsp of the reserved vinaigrette over the top and around each salad. Garnish with pistachios and shaved pecorino Romano cheese.
This recipe is from Traci des Jardins, who was chef-owner of the now closed Jardinière restaurant in San Francisco. She was always very interested in that balance between sweet, acid, and salt. In this recipe, sour kumquats balance sweet dates; bitter greens are offset by tangy oranges; pecorino adds salt and sharp flavor; and pistachios provide an extra salty crunch. The salad is also very beautiful to look at.