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Food Network Favorites: Sicilian Harvest Salad

My last test from the Michael Chiarello chapter. Even after making this one, I'm not quite sure if it works or not. It's a mixture of savory and sweet ingredients that sometimes didn't seem to mesh very well. My opinion of the salad varied almost from bite to bite.

The combination of sweet and savory ingredients in a salad is not a new idea, of course, but I felt that there were perhaps too many sweet things in this particular dish. The dried fruit plus the fresh fruit had a hard time balancing with the onions, spinach, and radicchio. If I were to try this salad again, I think I'd reduce the amount of fruit by about half. The recipe below is Chiarello's original.

This recipe also suffers from "restaurant-itis" : making the Fried Rosemary is a very simple task, and in a restaurant with a deep fryer, you wouldn't even have to think about cleanup or waste. Unfortunately, this book is written for home cooks, so you'll have to devote a large amount of oil to the rosemary, and then you'll have to figure out how to store it or dispose of it. It's a lot of oil to use for one little ingredient. The rosemary tastes good, but I'm not sure if I'd bother to make it again unless I needed to do some other deep-frying.

Chiarello also doesn't bother to give any indications as to yield; how many sprigs of rosemary do I need for the recipe's 1 1/2 Tbsp? I had to guess, since the recipe didn't tell me. I fried 5 sprigs (each about 4 inches long), which yielded 3 Tbsp of minced rosemary. If you don't need any extra, fry about 3 sprigs. Be sure to mince the fried herbs very fine, otherwise they are too pungent.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: about 10 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

1/2 cup raisins
1 cup halved large seedless grapes
1 Tbsp diced dried apricots (1/4-inch dice)
1 1/2 Tbsp Fried Rosemary (see recipe below)
1/4 large red onion, cut into small slivers
Juice of 1 large lemon
5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large head radicchio (about 3/4 pound)
2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
12 thin slices prosciutto or capacolla, or 1/4 pound sausage, grilled and cubed (optional)
1 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted

Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand until plump and soft, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Put the raisins, grapes, apricots, rosemary, and onion in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and stir in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Separate the radicchio into leaves, saving the heart for another use. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces and add to the dried fruit mixture along with the spinach. Toss well. Divide among 4 plates and top with the salami or sausage, if using. Scatter the pine nuts over the top.

Fried Rosemary
Oil for deep frying
Rosemary sprigs

Heat the oil in a small deep saucepan to 350 degrees (if you don't have an oil-safe thermometer, test the temperature after about 10 minutes by dropping a cube of fresh bread into the oil. If it immediately sizzles and turns golden brown after about 20 seconds, the oil is hot enough).

Deep-fry the rosemary in the hot oil for 30 seconds, then remove to drain on paper towels (be careful when you add the rosemary to the oil, as the oil will probably spatter).

Strip the leaves from the stems and crush the leaves in the paper towels to remove excess oil. Finely mince the leaves and store in a tightly sealed container.



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