Bittersweet Salad. The first time that I dreamed up this salad, my husband asked why I called it “bitter salad” because it doesn’t taste bitter to him! He thinks it’s bittersweet. I agreed and changed the name to “bittersweet” salad. It really does taste both bitter from the radicchio and sweet from the honeyed tarragon balsamic dressing. We tend to enjoy a lot of sweeter tomato-based salads, and savory Caesars, as well as a spicy spring mix or perhaps other light leafy summery greens.
This colorful salad concoction elegantly combines a number of regularly available ingredients in my refrigerator into a fresh, crisp, and slightly “bitter” overall flavor. Belgian endive and radicchio contribute to the “bitterness” while the tarragon balsamic dressing adds a sweet-sour flavor. This salad is a good addition to a hearty winter meal since all of these items are generally available in the winter season.
From the Kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….
2 heads Romaine lettuce
2 ribs celery
1 small head radicchio
1 head Belgian endive
1 red bell pepper
Bunch fresh tarragon
Tarragon Balsamic Dressing (recipe below)
1. Be sure to wash all vegetables even if they come “pre-washed.”
2. Remove the core of the Romaine lettuce, slice lengthwise, and chop or tear into bite-sized pieces.
3. Slice the carrots into thin “coins” or shave into curls.
4. Slice the celery into thin “horseshoes.”
5. Remove the core of the radicchio and chop the radicchio leaves coarsely.
6. Remove the end roots and slice the scallions using both the white part and some of the dark green part.
7. Slice the radishes thinly.
8. Cut off the core of the endive and slice thinly into half-moon pieces.
9. Remove the seeds, stem, and inside white pith of the red bell pepper. Slice the red bell pepper into bite-sized pieces.
10. Remove the tarragon leaves from the stem. Chop the leaves.
11. Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl. Toss ingredients with a few tablespoons of the tarragon balsamic dressing, or to taste.
Serves 4. Serve the salad with a sprinkling of your favorite cheese crumbles, such as goat cheese, blue cheese, or shredded/shaved parmesan. Season with salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste. Offer a toasted garlic baguette or a cracker with the salad. Or top with toasted croutons, if preferred. A good accompaniment to a hearty winter stew, soup, or chili.
Tarragon Balsamic Dressing
3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 minced garlic clove
Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, mustard, and honey. Add the extra-virgin olive and vegetable oils. Add the chopped tarragon and minced garlic clove. Whisk the dressing until smooth and well-blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Makes about half a cup of dressing. I keep this dressing on-hand for daily use. Make double or triple portions if it’s popular in your household. Lasts about a week or so covered in the fridge. You can use a glass jar as the mixing and storage container.
Variations: Substitute country dijon mustard for the regular dijon mustard. Substitute fresh basil, chives, thyme or other fresh herbs for the fresh tarragon. Substitute sugar or agave syrup for the honey.
Serving Option: The bittersweet salad is a nice side-dish accompaniment to the brown sugar ham and swiss cheese quiche recipe also on this site.
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