Winter Caesar salad

by Tom Hunt
Winter Caesar salad

Ingredients

For the salad
1 head of chicory (e.g. tardivo, treviso, endive), leaves picked
small bunch of baby kale
(e.g. red Russian, redbor, cavolo nero), stalks removed and finely chopped, leaves torn into large pieces
5g seaweed, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, then drained
4–6 walnuts, chopped
pinch of kala namak or sea salt
For the croûtons
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste
glug of extra virgin olive oil
3 slices of stale wholemeal sourdough (or other bread), cut into long batons
For the dressing
4 tbsp aquafaba
1 small garlic clove
1 tbsp capers, plus 1 tbsp for the salad
1 tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
100–150ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of ½ unwaxed lemon
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions

This is a plant-rich winter version of a classic Caesar salad, made using a variety of nutritious bitter leaves in place of the rather dull iceberg lettuce. Seaweed and salty capers give it a hint of the sea, as an alternative to anchovies, and grated walnuts replace the Parmesan. Leafy winter greens (whites, reds, pinks and purples) keep us going through the coldest months of the year with nutritious, colourful and flavourful ingredients that can withstand seriously cold temperatures, making them a good source of local nutrition, including vitamins A and C and minerals iron, potassium and calcium. Market gardens and specialist farmers are growing more and more varieties from old heritage species to new colourful hybrids, including variegated purple and green kale, magenta-coloured fingers of tardivo and radicchio del Veneto, a frilly chicory dressed in pastel-pink.

To make the dressing, combine the aquafaba, garlic, capers and nutritional yeast, if using, in a food processor and blitz together. Keeping the motor running, carefully pour in the extra virgin olive oil through the feeder tube in a very slow, steady stream, just like mayonnaise. After a couple of minutes, when the consistency is as thick as double cream, stop adding the oil and blend in the lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. To make the croûtons, combine the garlic and extra virgin olive oil in a bowl. Add the bread and turn it in the garlicky oil to coat it thoroughly. Season generously with salt. Transfer to a frying pan and fry over a medium heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over. Set aside. To prepare the salad, combine the leaves, seaweed, croûtons and capers in a bowl. Drizzle over the dressing and turn together just once or twice so the bright colours of the leaves shine through. Serve immediately, topped with a generous grating of walnuts and a sprinkling of kala namak or sea salt.

Eating for Pleasure, People & Planet by Tom Hunt is published by Kyle Books, £26.00, www.octopusbooks.co.uk

Photography: Jenny Zarins

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— Becci & Charles, Malin Bridge

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