I love escarole with a weird fiery passion. And I love radicchio and endive and frisée other bitter lettuces. I know they are not everyone’s cup of …tea/lettuce. But I think when you are serving up a rich main course like brisket or slow cooked teriyaki beef tips or lamb stew that an acerbic salad filled with strongly flavored greens is the most amazing counterpoint.
It kind of keeps bringing your mouth back to a striking point, keeps your tongue on its toes, so that every bit of the deeply savory dinner is appreciated anew. This is a slightly deep thought. I am a slightly (slightly) deep food thinker.
A Salad with Bitter Lettuces
In this salad you have a festival of sharp lettuces, tempered with a tart dressing tempered yet again with a bit of sweetness from the honey and orange juice. First you have the radicchio, with its beautiful purple and white calico coloring. If you can find Treviso radicchio, that’s a treat!
Then a pile of fluffy frisée lettuce. I adore frisée salads, the kind you get in a bistro.
Then some escarole—find your escarole, light green and tender. Not too intense. The bigger more mature escarole I save for cooking, where it mellows, and oh I love it so.
A pile of very thinly slivered red onions. Really the thinner the better. I don’t know exactly why very thinly sliced onion is so much more gorgeous and delicious in a salad, but it really is—if you are a mandoline person, now is the time.
Frisee, Radicchio and Escarole Salad with Citrus Dressing: When you are serving up a rich main course a bitter greens salad is the most amazing counterpoint.Tweet This
Dress and toss.
Cheese or No Cheese on Salad?
Now you have a choice, and it’s an important one—feta or no feta? Here’s how to decide—if your main course has cheese in it, probably no feta. If you have a vegan at the table, no feta. If your main course in Asian in origin, probably no feta. And if your main course is American or Mediterranean or just very simple, then consider adding the feta. It’s fabulous in this salad, though by no means necessary. Another possible addition: Homemade Croutons.
When my kids were little, this would not have been the salad for them. Even now, they prefer a milder salad. BUT they will eat it, and again, when there is a lot of deep savory stuff on the table (roasted meats, mashed potatoes) I think in the deep recesses of their food brains they understand why these bitter-ish lettuces have their place. If you were to want to temper this salad, you could use half of the lettuces listed below, and then add a few cups of slivered romaine lettuce to soften it up.
What to Serve with Frisee, Radicchio and Escarole Salad with Citrus Dressing:
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Frisee, Radicchio and Escarole Salad with Citrus Dressing
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard preferably grainy
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 medium head radicchio
- 1 small head escarole
- 1 large or 2 smalls heads frisée lettuce
- 1 red onion halved and very thinly sliced
- ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese optional
- In a large bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, honey, mustard and salt and pepper.
- Quarter the radicchio, cut out the core, and slice it very thinly. Slice the escarole crosswise into very thin ribbons. Slice or tear the frisée into small pieces. Place them in the bowl with the dressing and add the red onion. Toss to combine. Add the feta if desired, and toss again.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.