Colorful, ruffled, oddly shaped, and a hallmark of winter’s colder temperatures, chicories are a root vegetable variety that offers a bitter brightness and a host of health benefits. Chicories are a digestive aid packed with vitamins and minerals. Professional chefs and Tournant founders Mona and Jaret bring together two powerhouses in the kitchen, Benchmade’s Station Knife and fresh chicory, to create their Chicory Salad with Fennel, Pear, and Pomegranate Jewels. They balance the woody, nutty, and slightly bitter chicory flavor with sweet pears and a tangy vinaigrette for an amazing starter salad that’s a real eye-opener. It’s visually appealing, aromatic, and guaranteed to get your taste buds singing.
6 cups chicories (try at least two varieties, such as radicchio, treviso, endive, and/or escarole hearts) torn or chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced (fronds reserved)
1 watermelon radish, peeled and sliced first into thin rounds and then into matchsticks
1 ripe pear, sliced
1⁄3 cup pomegranate arils
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 tbsp. grainy mustard
1 tsp. maple syrup
Kosher salt to taste
Combine olive oil, sherry vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, and salt in a small mason jar. Put the lid on and shake until combined and fully emulsified.
Soak chicories in a large bowl filled with ice water for 30 minutes to remove some bitterness. Drain and spin in a salad spinner to dry.
Combine radicchio, fennel, pear, and most of the watermelon radish in a large bowl. Sprinkle with flaky salt.
Add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the leaves and toss to combine. Taste, adding more salt or vinaigrette as needed.
Arrange salad in a wide, shallow bowl then top with reserved watermelon radish and pomegranate arils. Pluck feathery tufts of fennel fronds and sprinkle over salad as garnish.
Creating a complex, mouth-watering salad that looks as good as it tastes is all about attention to prep. Mona and Jaret prefer the Station Knife to quickly process a basket full of fresh chicories, fruits, and root vegetables. Its powerful blade makes quick work of peeling, slicing, and dicing firm-textured foods, and the robust blade doubles as the perfect scoop or scrape to get your items into the bowl. The Station Knife is all-around precision prep at its best.