This traditional Greek salad uses a pleasantly bitter mix of frisée, escarole, and fresh dill.
Bitter Greens Salad with Olives and Feta
SERVES 4 to 6 FAST VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS We set out to re-create one of the salads traditionally eaten in Greece, one composed of a seasonal blend of pleasantly peppery, bitter greens that’s a far cry from the neighborhood pizza shop version of a Greek salad. We focused first on the greens. Romaine initially seemed like an obvious choice to create a nice neutral base for the salad, but we found that even mixed with peppery chicory greens it didn’t have enough of the bitterness we were searching for. We settled on using a combination of escarole and frisée, which had a crisp bite and plenty of spicy, bitter flavor. Dill is a classic component of many bitter greens salads, and we ended up adding a full ⅓ cup to allow its clean, slightly sweet flavor to really shine. We then accented the greens with a bright lemon vinaigrette, a mix of briny feta and kalamata olives, and tangy, slightly spicy pepperoncini peppers. If you prefer more heat, do not seed the pepperoncini.
1 head escarole (1 pound), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small head frisée (4 ounces), trimmed and torn into 1-inch pieces
½ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)
⅓ cup pepperoncini, seeded and cut into ¼-inch-thick strips
⅓ cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Gently toss escarole, frisée, olives, feta, and pepperoncini together in large bowl. Whisk dill, lemon juice, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in small bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in oil. Drizzle dressing over salad and gently toss to coat. Serve.
NOTES FROM THE TEST KITCHEN
Putting Together a Perfect Salad
PAIRING LEAFY GREENS WITH VINAIGRETTES
Vinaigrettes are the best choice for dressing leafy greens; heavier, creamier dressings are best on sturdy lettuce such as romaine or iceberg. Most salad greens fall into one of two categories: mellow or assertive. When you’re making a green salad, it’s important to choose your vinaigrette recipe carefully to complement the greens you are using.
Boston, Bibb, mâche, mesclun, red and green leaf, red oak, and flat-leaf spinach. Their mild flavors are easily overpowered and are best complemented by a simple dressing such as a classic red wine vinaigrette.
ASSERTIVE OR SPICY GREENS
Arugula, escarole, chicory, Belgian endive, radicchio, frisée, and watercress. These greens can easily stand up to strong flavors like mustard, shallots, and balsamic vinegar and can also be paired with a slightly sweet or creamy vinaigrette.