Taste of Italia: Insalata di Caprino

When winter rolls around, it’s common to instinctively reach for rich, hearty foods. Indulgent pasta dishes and warming casseroles certainly add a touch of comfort, but as the cold months continue they can leave you craving something a little lighter – which is where Italian salads begin to shine.

Radicchio, also known as Italian chicory, plays a vital role in this salad, adding a burst of colour and bringing a slightly bitter and spicy taste to the dish. The lentils and the radicchio may give the impression that this a traditionally earthy salad, but there’s a rich combination of flavours at play here – walnuts bring a bitter crunch to the dish and pomegranate seeds add a tart sweetness, while crumbled goats cheese gives the salad a creamy, rich texture. Then there’s the dressing, a vibrant combination of tangy lemon, sharp vinegar and olive oil – the perfect way to bring all of the ingredients together.

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Ingredients

300g cooked lentils
½ a head of radicchio
Handful of parsley
200g soft goats cheese
50g walnuts
1 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
50g pomegranate seeds
Salt and pepper

Method

Begin by preparing the ingredients. First, toast the walnuts. You can do this in an oven or in a frying pan – whichever you prefer. To toast in an oven, spread the walnuts on a tray and place in a preheated oven (approximately 175°C) for up to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally to ensure even cooking. To toast in a frying pan, heat the pan over a medium heat and add the walnuts to the hot, dry pan. Stir constantly for around 5 minutes. In both cases, the walnuts are ready when they start to brown and smell toasted. Next, zest the lemon, slice the radicchio and chop the parsley. Add the radicchio, parsley, toasted walnuts and cooked lentils to a large bowl. Stir the ingredients, crumbling in the goat's cheese and adding the pomegranate seeds as you go. Once all the ingredients are in the bowl, begin adding the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon zest, making sure to continuously stir the salad so that it is properly mixed together.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve, topping each serving with a little more parsley for presentation.