One of my favorite cold weather salads back in Rome were puntarelle, a kind of chicory typically dressed with a kind of garlic and anchovy vinaigrette. Fond memories…! This salad is a more refined French cousin, fit for elegant dinners but rustic enough for an everyday dinner. It makes a fine light entrée, a bed for fish or even a contorno for a seafood dish.
There are various ways to make anchoiade. For this vinaigrette-like version, melt some anchovy fillets in just a little bit of olive oil (you can also just melt them in a dry pan) over very low heat, taking care not to actually cook them. Then blend the fillets with a small spoonful of white wine vinegar, salt, freshly ground black pepper and a good pour of olive oil. Taste for balance and adjust the ingredients to your liking. Pour into a bowl or container and add a whole clove of garlic. Let the garlic steep for about an hour or so, remove it before spooning the anchoiade over the frisée. Serve with crusty bread and a crisp white wine.
NOTES: As always, whole anchovies packed in salt will give the best flavor, but fillets packed in olive oil will do fine. If you want a really assertive garlic flavor, you could add the garlic clove to the blender, but this would tend to overwhelm the frisée, which has a fairly delicate taste. I will post some time soon my more rustic mock ‘puntarelle’, which I use to console myself when I’m feeling nostalgic for that Roman classic.