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Secret Recipe: Judy Rodgers' Frisee and Escarole Salad

Secret Recipe: Judy Rodgers' Frisee and Escarole Salad

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In 1987, Judy Rodgers signed on as chef of Zuni Cafe in Hayes Valley and eventually became co-owner. Then in 2004, her French and Italian-influenced menus earned her a James Beard Foundation Outstanding Chef award. Last week, the James Beard Foundation published Best of the Best (Chronicle Books), a collection of recipes from its award recipients, including Rodgers. In it, she offers a frisee and escarole salad that's simple to make--though you do have remember to soak raisins days before you plan on serving it. 

Serves 4

1/4 cup golden raisins

6 tablespoons dry sherry

1 small shallot, finely diced

1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt

6 ounces small, tender frisee and escarole leaves

20 almonds, toasted and very coarsely chopped

2 ounces sunchoke, washed and trimmed, but not peeled

1 to 2 ounces dry Jack cheese, rind removed

Freshly cracked black pepper

1. At least three days before you make the salad, combines the raisins and sherry in a small jar, cover, and leave it at room temperature. Shake the jar a little each day to encourage the raisins to absorb the sherry evenly. They should absorb all or nearly all the sherry.

2. Combine the shallots and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside to marinate. After about 20 minutes, whisk in the oil and season with salt.

3. Drain the raisins.

4. Place the frisee and escarole in a large salad bowl. Add the almonds and raisins. Using a vegetable peeler or mandolin, shave the sunchoke into thin slices onto the greens. Next, shave about 1 ounce of the cheese into the bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss well to make sure every leaf is fully coated with dressing. Taste and add salt, if needed. 

5. Divide the salad among four small plates, dividing the elements evenly. Garnish each salad with shavings of the remaining cheese and finish with a few grinds of black pepper.