Tricolore Salad with Fried Capers

Tricolore Salad

This is the perfect salad to start an Italian meal.  It's bright and a bit abrasive - a great counterbalance to the richer dishes waiting in the wings.  I served it the other night as a first course to mushroom risotto.  

Traditionally, this salad is topped with shaved parmesan or pecorino cheese, but as most Italian meals are typically heavy in dairy, I wanted to avoid it here.  The capers add the same salty, savory punch that you get from the cheese, and frying them adds a wonderful textural contrast.

This is a great make-ahead salad too.  You can make the dressing a day before and the capers will keep for several hours once fried.  Then, I toss the lettuces together (undressed) in my serving bowl an hour before guests arrive and hold them in the fridge with a damp paper towel over the top.  When it's time to eat, all you have to do is toss with the vinaigrette and top with the capers. Easy!

Tricolore Salad with Fried Capers

Serves 4

2 heaping Tbs. capers, drained and dried well
6 cups arugula
1 head radicchio, thinly sliced
1 head Belgian endive, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

In small sauté pan, add 2-3 Tbs olive oil (enough to just coat bottom of pan) and bring to medium-high heat.  Add capers (be careful, they’ll splatter) and cook until they begin to open / burst (they’ll look like little flowers) and brown. About 2-4 minutes. Remove capers with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Reserve until ready to serve. 

In a large serving bowl, combine lettuces and toss with lemon vinaigrette. Be cautious with the dressing when first adding to avoid a soggy salad. Add additional dressing if needed.  Top with fried capers and serve immediately.  

Lemon Vinaigrette
Zest from 1/2 lemon
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. honey
salt + pepper 

Whisk together all ingredients until well combined.  Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.