I get a lot of cookbooks that come through Feed Me Phoebe headquarters, especially come fall when it seems like everyone and their mother, and therefore the Kardasians and their mother, release their perfectly polished recipes on the page. For the record, I am not complaining! And Kris K, if you’re out there somewhere, I would love an opportunity to see what you and your ghostwriter have been feeding Kimye.
One of my favorite cookbooks from this season is Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, With Recipes. Not only is it beautifully written and shot, but Jennifer McLagen highlights some of my favorite vegetables that I had not necessarily lumped into the category of bitter. Old loves of mine, like Brussels sprouts, white asparagus and celery, which is organized into the section “Surprisingly Bitter.”
Less surprisingly are of course the “born to be bitter” greens like endive, chicory and dandelion greens. I’ve been trying to dabble a bit more in these greens, as even Charlie is starting to get tired of my usual kale salads. Now that the temperatures have dropped I can’t bring myself to buy anymore bags of prewashed arugula. I want something warm that can stand up to a little bit of cooking, something like a roasted brussels sprout salad with radicchio and bacon.
Since I’m notoriously bad at following cookbook recipes, this salad evolved via inspiration from several sections of Bitter. An overarching rule of thumb when faced with several of these pungently and surprisingly bitter vegetables seems to be add bacon whenever possible. I had done this recently with quick sautéed Dandelion greens and topped them with egg mimosa, which helped cut the bitter flavor with even more richness.
Instead of dandelion greens this time, I used a combination of pungently bitter warm roasted Brussels sprouts and born-to-be-bitter raw radicchio. When you toss the lettuce with the hot sprouts and vinaigrette, it wilts slightly and that bitter flavor seems to mellow all the more.
This has become one of my favorite fall side salads. Use a thick cut slab bacon or pancetta and a really good French Dijon mustard for the vinaigrette. It’s a play on one of my favorite bitter salads, Frisee with a poached egg and lardons, and if you’ve ever had that dish, you know that the lardons are the first things to disappear from the plate.
There are so many amazing recipes in Bitter, including a pumpkin risotto with radicchio and a sautéed Brussels sprout salad with chickpeas that I’m dying to try. I recently made a mac ‘n cheese with radicchio and it was outrageous (stay tuned for that recipe on Food & Wine’s blog in the coming weeks).
So much inspiration for healthy hedonism to be had from these under-rated veggies. I hope you’ll join me in exploring them!
This roasted brussels sprout salad with bacon recipe is the perfect fall holiday side dish. The egg mimosa and salty vinaigrette is a great addition to the bitter radicchio and caramelized sprouts.
- 1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 head radicchio, halved and thinly sliced
- 4 ounces diced slab bacon or pancetta
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil until well coated. Arrange cut-side down and season with salt. Bake in the oven until browned and caramelized, 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil. Remove the eggs from the heat and allow to sit in the water until cool enough to touch. Peel the eggs and press them through a coarse-mesh sieve into a bowl. Set aside.
- In a small skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until nicely browned and crispy. Remove from the heat. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the Dijon and vinegar. Add the bacon fat, a few drops at a time, and whisk until smooth. Fold in the remaining bacon and fat.
- Arrange the radicchio and Brussels sprouts on a serving platter. Drizzle with the bacon vinaigrette and top with the egg mimosa. Serve immediately.