Winter Salad with Creamy Lemon Buttermilk Dressing, Spicy Garlic Croutons, Avocado, Pecorino, and Pomegranate

By Phyllis Grant
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Local food writer Phyllis Grant of Dash and Bella, shares her favorite way to enjoy winter chicories.

Radicchio, frisée, escarole and endive: the chicories are here! Highlight one in your salad or mix them all for a colorful winter explosion. Just make sure you use a sturdy and slightly bitter green because it needs to stand up to the intense dressing. I like to keep the leaves whole because they are so beautiful but feel free to tear or cut them into any size you like. This recipe will make more dressing than you need but it’s nice to have a little on the side in a pitcher in case people want more. And, of course, leftover salad dressing equals another meal. The buttermilk and the yogurt add a zing and creaminess to the dressing without being too heavy. If you serve this salad with pâté and charcuterie, you have a complete winter meal. (Tip: spread pâté on the dressing-drenched croutons.)

Follow Phyllis Grant at @dashandbella


For the Spicy Garlic Croutons

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, peeled and microplaned

1 teaspoon chili flakes (Aleppo, Marash, Espelette)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 day-old baguette, thinly sliced

For the Creamy Lemon Buttermilk Dressing

3 tablespoons buttermilk

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar

2 medium-sized garlic cloves, peeled and microplaned

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon plain whole milk Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons creamy Dijon mustard

For the salad assembly

2 large heads Radicchio di Castelfranco (or any other chicory), cored and leaves carefully separated, or 4 small ones

1 recipe Spicy Garlic Croutons (see above)

1 teaspoon coarse salt (fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt)

1 recipe Creamy Lemon Buttermilk Salad Dressing (see above)

2 avocados, halved and thinly sliced

20 delicate wisps of Pecorino (I use a vegetable peeler)

1/3 cup pomegranate arils


For the Spicy Garlic Croutons

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon zest, chili, and salt. Add bread and quickly toss with your hands until all pieces are evenly coated. Sometimes, you will need to add a few more splashes of olive oil to coat everything. Spread slices in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Bake until crispy and lightly brown. about 20-25 minutes (but keep a close eye on them after 15 minutes because they turn brown fast).

For the Creamy Lemon Buttermilk Dressing

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. If the honey hasn’t completed integrated into the dressing, give it a little help with a mini whisk or a fork and shake again. Taste. Adjust to your liking. If it’s too acidic, add more olive oil or buttermilk. If it’s a bit flat, add more vinegar or lemon juice. Just make sure it has enough of a kick to hold up to the intense greens.

For the salad assembly

Place all of your greens and half of the croutons in a large bowl or on a cookie sheet with sides. Sprinkle with half of the coarse salt. Drizzle over a few tablespoons of the dressing. Toss with your hands. Add a bit more dressing until everything is lightly coated. No more tossing. Now, on top of the dressed greens, carefully, artfully, casually place the rest of the croutons (yes, there will be lots!), the avocado slices, the pomegranate, and the pecorino wisps. Splash with more salad dressing and coarse salt. Serve immediately.

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