Festive Winter Salad

The Southern Italian and Italian American ritual of celebrating the “Feast of the Seven Fishes” evolved from the Catholic practice of abstaining from eating meat on Christmas Eve.  The seven fishes are supposed to represent the seven sacraments and if you are invited to such a feast, here is a delicious salad recipe which will meet the criteria, but in a much less prominent way (ssshhh…the secret ingredient is anchovies). The general appeal of the bold and salty goodness throughout each bite will be the tantalizing taste!

For the rest who are not attending a seven-coursed fish feast but who are looking for a festive salad to serve, consider this one with its bright and savory flavors.  It makes for an especially merry plate at Christmas time with its red and green leaves. With such strong flavors however, I suggest concluding the meal with this salad, in the European or French style, as opposed to beginning the meal with it as we are accustomed.

A lovely salad can color our palates during the gray of winter.  This salad does even more though. If we look between the layers of dressed leaves, there is an Advent message of waiting. By serving the salad at the end…we remember that God’s love is the stronger and deeper love we wait upon and has indeed come to us through the birth of Jesus – Immanuel, “God with us.” His encompassing presence stays with us, even in our coldest, darkest “winters.” God coming to us reveals His rescue plan for our redemption… of our gray colors…our dull flavors… and so much more.

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed
kosher salt and pepper as needed
6 anchovy filets, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 quarts cleaned (and dried) baby spinach, baby kale, or baby arugula
1 small head radicchio, trimmed and thinly sliced

For the dressing, make a paste with the fresh garlic and a generous pinch of kosher using the mashing from the back of a chef’s knife. In a small bowl, mix garlic paste, anchovies, mustard, and lemon juice together and then slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season and adjust if needed.

In a large bowl, toss enough dressing with radicchio, baby spinach, or baby kale until leaves are lightly coated. Serve immediately.  ~Lauren

Serves 6-8

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