This is a Little Fishy

I admit it. On my pizza, I only like garlic. I used to like pepperoni and hamburger, but that was when I was a kid. And I have never liked anchovies. On pizza or anything for that matter. I was always the one who would request, "Please, no anchovies on my Caesar."

That is, I was that way until recently.

I decided I needed to give anchovies a real chance because, honestly, I had never had them, but just assumed I wouldn't like them. And you know what happens when you assume, right?

David has always proclaimed that "anchovies make so many things taste so much better." To which he'll add, "You'll never know they're in there, I promise." A few years ago, I started dabbling with anchovy paste. We add a squirt to our Caesar salad dressing. And I am fine with that.

So now that I am a big girl, I bought a can of anchovies. That sat in the pantry. Until I came across this salad recipe that calls for real anchovies in the dressing. And I decided to give it a try.


Wow!

The anchovies really made this salad dressing come alive. It wasn't too fishy or even fishy at all, but rich and full of flavor. Added to the garlic and olive oil, it was superb. Cooking the mixture softens, yet deepens the flavors. The crisp escarole with the radishes, celery, tomatoes and cucumbers let the dressing shine but provide the right amount of lightness and exceptional crunch factor.

Actually, the salad dressing recipe is a take on bagna cauda (which translates to "hot bath"). Last Thanksgiving, my foodie friend, Julia, served bagna cauda with raw veggies and I couldn't get enough of it. Perfect, so any of the leftover salad dressing can be used as a vegetable dip. I love it when I make something and leftovers can be used for something completely different...thus, making it not seem like it was left-over.

If you love garlic and anchovies, or just merely even slightly like anchovies, trust me, you won't be disappointed in this multi-purpose dressing.

Buen provecho!


Crisp Escarole Salad with Garlicky Anchovy Dressing


The trick to this salad is to make sure the lettuce and veggies are very cold. Otherwise, the warm dressing sits on not-so-cold lettuce and the result is not-so-spectacular. So wash and prep the lettuce and veggies well in advance so they have plenty of time to chill. Served with some protein on top, this could easily be a light and easy dinner.

Serves 4

Stale bread for making croutons, about two 3/4-inch thick slices of whatever bread you have on hand, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1 large head of escarole, light green and white leaves only, cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
6 radishes, thinly sliced
4 celery ribs with leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, seeds removed, halved lengthwise and thinly cut crosswise
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 oil-packed anchovy filets, drained and coarsely chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, toast the bread for 15 minutes, tossing once, until lightly golden. Let cool.

In a saucepan, combine the olive oil, chopped anchovies and minced garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Be sure to watch the saucepan as this mixture bubbles up when cooking. Add the lemon juice and season generously with pepper.


Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss the escarole strips with the radishes, celery, tomatoes and cucumber.

Add the croutons to the salad and toss. Pour the dressing over the salad and taste to determine how much more or little salt you want to add. Add salt, if necessary, and lots of black pepper and toss again.

Serve immediately.

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