Radicchio, walnut tarator, blueberries and roasted blood sausage
The debate over combining fruit with savoury dishes can become almost as passionate as that concerning religion. It’s all in or not at all. Like pineapple on pizza – the idea can be met with disgust or delight in equal measure.
But – shock, horror – the use of fruit in savoury recipes exists in nearly all cuisines. And one of my favourite applications involves Scandinavian food, which incorporates berries in vinegars and dressings with that beautiful sour element that can also be floral. The wild berries of Europe are prevalent in the summer months but these berries are also delicate and perishable. Drying the berries whole or preserving them in vinegars becomes a process in grading during harvest.
In 2019, I spent a fair bit of time on both the west and east coasts of the United States. My time coincided with berry season, so I was lucky enough to taste wild blueberries in the mountains of New Hampshire and huckleberries in Oregon’s Warm Springs reservation. The flavour remains in my mind. Using these berries with wild game or fish was all about synchronicity, as the sweetness and tartness combined to change the dish.
Wild berries in Australia tend to be introduced varieties, although the number of native berries is huge but not well documented. Tim Low’s Wild Food Plants of Australia is a solid guide to this country’s edible flora. Finding wild blackberry shrubs in areas where it is known the plants haven’t been sprayed is always great sport. The next biggest issue is actually getting them into the harvesting vessel rather putting them straight in your mouth.
I think the naysayers should reconsider the use of fruit in savoury dishes. After all, verjuice comes from grapes. And what are olives? Fruit. Tomatoes? Eggplants? Fruit. So why not put pineapple on pizza?
- 300g walnuts
- 150ml red wine vinegar
- 100g old bread
- 1 clove garlic
- 200g blueberries
- 20ml olive oil
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 40ml walnut oil
- 1 head radicchio
- 300g blood sausage
- To make the tarator, place half the walnuts, 100 millilitres of chilled water, 30 millilitres of the red wine vinegar, the bread and the garlic in a food processor. Blend until smooth and then season with salt.
- In a stainless-steel pot combine the blueberries with the olive oil and the remaining vinegar, then place over a high heat for one minute until the blueberries begin to bleed. Add the caraway seeds and the walnut oil and let cool. Adjust the seasoning with a little salt to taste.
- Pull apart the radicchio leaf by leaf and toss together in a bowl with the blueberries. Let macerate for 10 minutes.
- While the radicchio is macerating, crumble the blood sausage and the remaining walnuts and place separately onto a roasting tray. Season lightly and roast at 180ºC for eight minutes.
- To serve, place a spoonful of the tarator in the centre of a plate, sit the radicchio and blueberries on top, then finish with the walnut and blood sausage. Spoon over some of the extra blueberry dressing.
- Enjoy for lunch with crusty bread or flatbreads.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on July 10, 2021 as "Fruit punch".
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