Serious Eats: Recipes

The Crisper Whisperer: Winter Greens with Olive Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese Croutons

You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays with ideas on preparing fruits and vegetables. —The Mgmt.

[Photograph: Carolyn Cope]

In bleak midwinter, salads don't always spring to mind as readily as gratins, soups, and roasted roots when we're thinking about how to prepare vegetables. But sometimes a salad is exactly what you need. Bitter winter greens such as escarole, chicory, and endive have a lot of personality and a great crunch when served raw, so they can stand up to bold flavors that might overwhelm tender baby greens. Being an umami fiend, I find this characteristic particularly endearing.

Escarole, chicory, and Belgian endive all derive from the same plant. Escarole has a flatter, broader leaf and generally a bit of a milder taste than chicory. Chicory has thinner, curlier leaves and often has a slightly more pungent bitter taste. Belgian endive, which has pale, oblong leaves, is the result of a true labor of love. Farmers harvest very young chicory plants and then re-plant the roots, growing them in total darkness to produce the almost pure-white endive.

Winter Greens with Olive Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese Croutons combines all three of these varieties, each of which brings a different taste and texture (although feel free to substitute one for the other if necessary). The strong flavors of olive, garlic, and goat cheese play beautifully with the bitter greens, making this a satisfying dish. This is a bit of a fancy-pants salad, great as a first course for a dinner party but equally good as a light lunch. You can marinate the goat cheese, toast the croutons, and make the dressing up to a couple of days in advance.

Winter Greens with Olive Vinaigrette and Goat Cheese Croutons

About the author: Carolyn Cope writes Umami Girl and manages a CSA in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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