This salad starts with a turkey reuben, oddly enough. That was the very tasty sandwich I had at 900 Grayson in Berkeley on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
With it came a nice little green salad with pickled beets and even better, pickled onions. Oh my, so tasty.
Since I had volunteered to bring a salad to Thanksgiving dinner, those onions were an inspiration. I looked around online and found Sassy Radish's post on Anne Burrell's recipe for escarole salad with pickled red onions.
Well, you don't have to use escarole; romaine works just dandy. And the salad's not just about the onions; it's got some other goodies, too.
Start with the pickling a day ahead if you can. You'll need a red onion, thinly sliced. Put it into a mixture of 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup cold water, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a couple good shakes of hot sauce such as Tabasco or sriracha.
If you're making a really big salad, you can double this with two onions, but don't double the salt. (I learned this the hard way, but with enough time to rectify it.)
If you like pickled things, you may find yourself the next day eating onions out of the bowl like candy.
When you're ready to make the salad, you toast 1/2 cup hazelnuts (pieces or whole, doesn't matter). Toss them into a food processor (if you have a mini one, that works great) with 1/2 cup grated hard, pungent cheese such as pecorino romano or asiago or parmesan or a combination (thanks, Trader Joe's!), and about 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley leaves. Pulse until it looks a bit like dry pesto.
Toss this mixture in your lettuce with a good drizzle of olive oil, the onions, and some spoonfuls of the pickling liquid.
It was very good! The Thanksgiving salad disappeared, as did one for a party the next night.
The salad you see here is just for me; I made a big batch of onions and pesto and I'm eating yummy fresh salads all week.