This dressing is similar in style to one I learnt to make whilst working at Moro, which used sherry vinegar and sweet Pedro Ximenez. The 1.25 Balsamic is an excellent variation, its concentrated oaked flavour being offset by a decent amount of acidity and its sweetness being ideal for countering chicory’s bitterness. The clementine and brazil nuts mark this out as a festive dish, but the dressing is good to use all year round.
8tbsp Early Harvest Olive Oil
7 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 sprig of rosemary and thyme, finely chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp 1.25 Balsamic Vinegar
1 head red chicory, cut in half length ways
1 head white chicory, cut in half length ways
½ head of castel franco, torn into small pieces. If unavailable, use more white chicory.
3 clementines, peel and pith removed, slice horizontally into rounds
60g brazil nuts, roughly chopped
Put half of the olive oil in a small pan followed by the garlic. Stir with a spoon to separate the cloves. Place on a medium heat and allow the oil to begin to heat up. This takes a little time but don’t be tempted to turn the heat up high as the garlic can burn very quickly, which will leave an unpleasant bitter taste. Keep an eye on the pan and gently swirl it around. Have another pan or metal bowl ready to empty the contents into. The garlic will gradually cook and eventually start to turn a pale golden colour, which is when it is ready. Add the rosemary, thyme and bay leaf, then empty the pan into the bowl. Allow the oil to cool for 5 minutes then add the balsamic vinegar and the remaining oil. Season with oil and pepper and set aside. This dressing can be kept for at least a week in the fridge.
Place a wide frying pan on a high heat. Brush the cut side of the chicory with a little olive oil, season with salt and place in the pan. Sear on a high heat for 3 – 4 minutes, or until dark and coloured. Remove from the pan and thinly slice length ways. Place in a bowl with the castel franco and clementine slices, season with salt and pepper. Use a spoon to mix the dressing up and then take a couple of spoonfuls to lightly dress the salad, making sure to get some of the pieces of fried garlic in there. Mix the salad then taste and adjust the dressing and seasoning if necessary. Arrange between plate and scatter with the brazil nuts.