Don’t run in the other direction just because you see anchovies in the name; the soft, Spanish, white ones are not the same as those more commonly available tiny but super-salty fillets. These are a bit more trouble to find, but are oh so worth it. They’re tender, fleshy and mellow. They’re so good, in fact, there’s no need to hide them in the dressing; display them proudly on top!
Charring a mixture of sturdy, bitter greens on the grill, or in a blistering hot cast-iron skillet, is a wonderful way to add a hit of flavourful caramelization and depth to a salad. Serves 4 to 6
6 room-temperature free-range eggs
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 slices round pancetta or prosciutto if desired
1/4 cup good-quality, free-range-egg mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp pepper + more for garnish
10 to 12 Spanish white anchovies divided
1 large head romaine lettuce, rinsed and cut into quarters, lengthwise; discard tough outer leaves
1 medium radicchio, rinsed and cut into quarters
2 Belgian endives, rinsed and cut in half, lengthwise
1/4 cup grated pecorino, Parmesan or Romano cheese + more for garnish
In small saucepan of water over high heat, bring water to the boil; add eggs and boil for 6 minutes. Place saucepan of eggs in sink and run cold water over them until they’ve cooled; set aside until ready to peel.
A few hours before making the salad, cut baguette into thin, 1/4-inch-thick angled slices (about 8 to 10 slices); leave out on a tray to dry out a bit before frying.
In large skillet over medium-high heat, fry pancetta in about 1 tbsp or so of olive oil until crispy; transfer to clean kitchen towel to drain, then set aside at room temperature.
Add couple of tablespoons more of oil to pancetta pan and fry sliced baguette until golden on one side; flip and fry until golden on second side. Add more oil if it all gets absorbed before adding the next batch of bread slices. Transfer to tray and set aside, uncovered, at room temperature.
In large non-reactive bowl (glass is good), whisk together mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, pepper, and 2 finely chopped anchovy fillets until well combined; set dressing aside.
Arrange lettuce, radicchio and endives on tray; drizzle with more olive oil or spray with olive oil non-stick spray. Working at the barbecue grill or with that trusty cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, add greens, cut side down, and cook until some dark brown or charred spots appear, about 3 minutes; gently turn and grill other side for a few seconds, just to warm.
On large serving platter, arrange charred greens, cooked eggs — peeled and cut in half lengthwise — fried pancetta, crispy baguette slices topped with anchovies, then drizzle with dressing. Finish with a few slices or an even dusting of grated cheese and a little freshly ground black pepper.
When cutting the greens, leave the tough core in place to hold the leaves together; the eater will cut it off.
Super-farm-fresh or backyard eggs can be next to impossible to peel without damaging the delicate whites. I’ve found that adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to the boiling water, then peeling them under a trickle of cold water, can really help.
From Hudson, Quebec, now living in Port Hope, Ontario, Signe is a restaurant chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories and creates delicious recipes for LCBO’s Food & Drink, Manna Pro Hearty Homestead, The Harvest Commission, and Today’s Parent; she published her first book – Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes – in 2015.