A pretty, flavourful starter
This makes a very pretty, flavourful starter—the chocolate notes are very gentle, because it’s being used as a spice. Opt for cacao nibs in the dressing instead of the 100 per cent dark chocolate if you prefer. I love the tiny nuggets of flavour and texture, but some people aren’t so sure. It’s easy to buy 100 per cent dark chocolate these days, but if you can’t, just use the highest cocoa content chocolate you can find. Avoid cocoa powder, as it’s too harsh and bitter.
For the dressing:
21 tsp grated dark chocolate (100 per cent cocoa solids) or crushed cacao nibs
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp hazelnut oil (extra virgin olive oil is fine)
2 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
1 tsp finely grated orange zest, or more to taste
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
15g skinless hazelnuts
4-6 purple endive leaves or pink radicchio (castelfranco)
4-6 slices coppa (about 40g) or prosciutto
2 large ripe figs, quartered
Preheat the oven to 180C. Place all the dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar, close and shake well. Set aside for the flavours to get to know each other and then taste, adding a little more orange zest or salt and pepper if needed.
Spread the hazelnuts out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 12 mins, or until pale gold. Be careful not to let them go too dark, or the salad will taste bitter. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop.
Arrange the endive or radicchio in the centre of 2 plates and top with the coppa slices and fig quarters. Drizzle over the dressing—you’ll want to use all of it—and scatter with the hazelnuts. Serve immediately.
Recipe: Sue Quinn
Image: Yuki Sugiura