These days, chefs love to add pickled ingredients to their salads. Chef Michael Tusk pickles quince with ginger, spices and white wine vinegar; the strong sweet-tart flavors would overwhelm delicate lettuces, but the bold, bitter greens here are just right.
Slideshow: Pickled Vegetables
Eight 1/4-inch slices of peeled fresh ginger
3 whole cloves
1 small star anise pod
1 bay leaf
2 quinces—peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick; peels and cores reserved
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup hazelnuts
1 medium shallot, minced (1/4 cup)
1/3 cup Moscato vinegar (see Note)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon hazelnut oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 3/4 pounds mixed chicories, such as endives, radicchio and escarole hearts, torn into bite-size pieces (16 cups)
1 cup pomegranate seeds (from 1 large pomegranate)
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. Tie the ginger, cloves, star anise, bay leaf and the reserved quince peels and cores in a cheesecloth bundle. In a large saucepan, combine the white wine vinegar with the water and sugar and add the cheesecloth bundle; bring to a boil. Add the quince slices and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 1 hour. Let cool completely. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the quince slices to a plate and refrigerate until chilled.
Meanwhile, spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast until the skins blister, about 14 minutes. Rub the hazelnuts together in a clean kitchen towel to remove the skins. Coarsely chop the hazelnuts.
In a bowl, combine the shallot with the Moscato vinegar and red wine vinegar; let stand for 15 minutes. Whisk in the olive and hazelnut oils. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss the chicories with the pomegranate seeds, toasted hazelnuts and pickled quince slices. Add half of the vinaigrette and toss well. Drizzle the pomegranate molasses over the salad, season with salt and pepper and toss again. Serve right away, passing the remaining vinaigrette at the table.
The drained quince slices can be refrigerated for up to 5 days; the vinaigrette can be refrigerated overnight.
Moscato vinegar, made from fragrant white Moscato wine grapes, is available at specialty food stores and online at formaggiokitchen.com.
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