I love toss and tumble salads. A packet of hot-smoked salmon in the refrigerator is a savior on nights when you’re not up for a big cook, or you’ve run out of time to shop. Of course, you need an avocado and a few salady herby bits and bobs to turn it into a meal.
I love the crunch and juiciness of witloof in a salad (see below), though peeled, halved, seeded and sliced cucumber will do the trick (I’ve used both because I had them). The tang of lightly pan-fried or oven-baked Meyer lemons, or some sliced preserved lemon, gives hot-smoked salmon and avocado a much needed fresh burst. The result is a colourful salad full of texture and taste. Parsley, chervil, basil, chives, dill or coriander (cilantro) all make good additions. All you need to finish it off is a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil, a squirt or three of lemon juice, and of course several pinches of flaky sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper.
Witloof adds a juicy crunch and a bitter-sweet edge to a salad which is especially welcome at the end of a rich meal, or with rich foods. Tree-ripened citrus fruit, especially oranges, but also grapefruit towards the end of their season (they’re sweeter at this time), are superb with a salad of witloof and fresh walnuts, dressed with walnut oil and a smattering of fresh chervil or chives.
Witloof translates as white leaf. In France it is called endive, and in Italy it is called cicoria. There is a delicious lettuce, a different vegetable altogether, which the French call chicory and the Italians call endive. How confusing!
Witloof has juicy leaves with a hint of bitterness. If it is exposed to light it will become very bitter – that’s why it should be sold wrapped in light-resistant paper. Red-leaved witloof is gorgeous in a mixed salad – the plump juicy leaves have a little more texture than regular witloof, but provide pretty much the same bitter-sweet flavour.
Witloof contains good quantities of Vitamin A, calcium, iron and potassium.