Food & Drink

Everyday Food: Bitter greens make for happy meals

Greens related to chicory, sweet-tart grapefruit and avocado are tossed with a creamy vinaigrette and topped with poppy seeds.
Greens related to chicory, sweet-tart grapefruit and avocado are tossed with a creamy vinaigrette and topped with poppy seeds. Marcus Nilsson

Bitter greens taste wonderful, especially at this time of year. There’s a host of these lettuces and other greens that make great starting points for salads with substance. After all, bitter plays well with salty, sour and sweet. And eating the greens raw means none of their nutrients is lost (as they often would be from cooking). How sweet is that?

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Bitter greens, grapefruit and avocado salad

The dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two, tightly covered; whisk it until smooth before serving. Mint would be a nice alternative to basil.

Serves 6

  • 2 pink grapefruits
  • 2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  •  1/4 cup low-fat (2%) Greek yogurt
  •  1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  1/2 head escarole, coarsely chopped (4 cups)
  • 2 heads Belgian endive, preferably red, leaves separated, and coarsely chopped if large (4 cups)
  • 2 heads frisee, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces (2 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn if large
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Poppy seeds, for serving

1. Remove peels and piths from grapefruits with a sharp knife. Working over a bowl to catch juices, carefully cut between membranes to remove whole segments. In a bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice, vinegar, mustard,  1/4 teaspoon salt,  1/4 teaspoon pepper and yogurt. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking until combined.

2. Toss together greens and basil; divide evenly among 4 plates. Top with grapefruit and avocado. Drizzle with vinaigrette, sprinkle with poppy seeds and serve.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 182 calories, 15 grams fat, 13 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 1 milligram cholesterol, 34 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 67 percent of calories from fat.

Farro salad with fennel, golden raisins and radicchio

You can toss the farro with the fennel mixture up to one day ahead; add the mint, radicchio and fennel fronds just before serving.

Serves 6

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  •  1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •  1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 head fennel, thinly sliced lengthwise, plus  1/3 cup fennel fronds
  • 1 cup farro
  •  1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  •  1/2 head radicchio, cored and coarsely chopped

1. In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, honey, shallot,  1/2 teaspoon salt,  1/4 teaspoon pepper and oil. Add raisins and sliced fennel; toss to coat.

2. In a medium saucepan, cover farro with 4 inches water and bring to a boil; season with salt. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and let cool completely.

3. Add farro to bowl with mint, radicchio and fennel fronds. Season with additional salt, if desired. Serve.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 229 calories, 10 grams fat, 33 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, no cholesterol, 11 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber, 37 percent of calories from fat.

Dandelion greens with pomegranate molasses

To extract the pomegranate seeds, halve the fruit, hold each half cutside down over a bowl and whack the outside with a wooden spoon.

Serves 4

  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses, such as Mymoune (available at
  •  1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 cups dandelion greens (preferably young), cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  •  1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  •  1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 ounces ricotta salata, thinly shaved ( 1/2 cup)

1. In a small bowl, whisk together molasses, 2 teaspoons water, and oil until smooth. Season with  1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper.

2. Toss dressing with dandelion greens and pomegranate seeds in a large bowl. Divide evenly among 4 serving bowls; top with almonds and cheese.

Nutritional analysis per serving: