Fire-And-Iceberg Salad

"At my child’s preschool they sometimes serve miniature piles of torn iceberg lettuce tossed with French dressing. I can understand why: The crunch is fun and the dressing candy-sweet. When made at home, where you can control the sugar and add some heat and smoked paprika, French dressing is a more interesting concoction. I like it spicy, because I find that a little chile fire goes a long way toward igniting the cold crisp heart of the iceberg. Torn radicchio—raging pink—adds color and maturity. Original recipe from Amy Thielen's The New Midwestern Table:"
photo by AmyThielen photo by AmyThielen
photo by AmyThielen
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  • For the dressing, combine the garlic, tomato paste, both paprikas, honey, vinegar, and lemon juice in a small bowl, and stir to combine. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with the cayenne, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Pour the dressing into a small pitcher for serving at the table.
  • To toast the walnuts, combine them with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the tablespoon of butter in a small skillet set over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing regularly, until the walnuts are fragrant and have turned golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let the nuts cool.
  • Tear the iceberg lettuce and the radicchio into bite-size pieces, and combine in a large salad bowl. Add the celery and the walnuts (cooking fat and all), and toss to combine. Sprinkle the blue cheese over the top and serve immediately, passing the dressing alongside.
  • Note: For perfect crispness, let each person drizzle the dressing over his or her own salad. Tossing the iceberg with the dressing before it reaches the table causes the lettuce to wilt.

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  1. strangemk1
    I will not put any stars on this because I was not familiar with radicchio, and it is not fair to rate a recipe based a main ingredient that you don't like. I have found out that it is bitter, and I like it only in small quantities. Perhaps the head of radicchio that I bought was larger than usual, but my impression of the first bite was "Bitter!" I have since read other places online, and it appears to be common knowledge that it is bitter, so that is my mistake. Oh, I also forgot to prepare and add the walnuts. <br/><br/>Maybe I made this with the wrong proportion of radicchio to iceberg, or maybe the head was not the freshest, I just don't know. I would like to see what others think of it when they try it. Those who liked hot food really loved the dressing, and others the bleu cheese. One person went back for seconds at our movie night. I really wanted to like this new-to-me recipe.<br/><br/> I hope other people are not put off by my review, and do try this. Go easy on the radicchio.<br/><br/>Thank you, Amy, for posting this, and I look forward to trying other of your recipes.


<p class=p1>I&rsquo;m a chef, a cooking teacher, a recipe developer, a writer, a cookbook author (the upcoming THE NEW MIDWESTERN TABLE), and host of HEARTLAND TABLE on Food Network. I grew up in Minnesota but spent 7 years cooking professionally in New York in fine dining kitchens. I am also a wife and a mom who shoulders some pretty heavy cooking duties. In other words, I may be a former professional but I also cook three meals a day. &nbsp;</p>
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