Bittman Salad 29: Balsamic Cherries & Bitter Greens

Rainier Cherries

There are any number of reasons I’ve decided to chop and chew my way through the 101 “Simple Salads” Mark Bittman conjured up for the summer season. Julie & Julia has been simmering in my mind since I finished reading the book a month or two ago, and as the movie opening date approaches and the resulting hubbub ensues, I guess I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about not only cooking my way through something to ground myself, but cooking period.  Sadly, my kitchen hasn’t been getting the workout it’s used to.  Does making salad count as cooking? Will Mr. Bittman deem it a stunt and suggest I’m a less than serious salad maker?  Is it possible that food snobs everywhere will comment on my efforts and suggest I’m not worthy of sampling this treasure trove of healthy minimalist fare?

Or, perhaps, there is the real reason I’ve decided to embark on this quest:   I will benefit from all the lovely green things I’m ingesting and could lose weight in the process.  Think about it:  101 salads in 101 days.  That’s a bit of roughage.  It’s healthy, easy and because I’ve scanned all the combinations Bittman suggests, I know I’ll find something new to add to my old standards.

I have some planning to do with organizing the salads into groups with common ingredients to make shopping more manageable, but in the meantime, I’ve begun with #29.  Why?  Because I had  Rainier Cherries in the fridge that were in desperate need of use.  I’m thinking that’s as good a reason as any.

Cherries & Bitter Greens Salad

1 c. radicchio, chopped

3 c. escarole, sliced in strips

watercress

3/4 c. cherries, halved

2 T sliced almonds

extra virgin olive oil, drizzled

balsamic vinegar, 2 glugs

Maldon salt

freshly cracked pepper

In a small saute pan, drizzle a bit of olive oil.  Add the cherry halves to the pan and pour the balsamic vinegar over. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the cherries are heated through and have begun to soften.  Remove from heat.

Escarole Radicchio

While the cherries are cooking, chop the radicchio and slice the escarole.  On a large dinner plate, mound the escarole and sprinkle the radicchio over.  Add the watercress.

When the cherry mixture has cooled a bit, drizzle the sauce over the greens, add the cherries, sprinkle on the almonds, salt and pepper.  If desired, add a bit more balsamic vinegar.

Serves two or three as a starter —  one for lunch or dinner.

Bittman Salad 29-2

Notes:

  • The quantities in this recipe are approximate.  Use your own judgment.
  • I really enjoyed this salad.   Actually, I was surprised about how much I enjoyed it, but I had a sneaking suspicion, or wouldn’t have started with this one.
  • It’s all about the perfectly loaded fork.  A cherry with every bite is simply fabulous.
  • I enjoy bitter greens such as watercress, escarole, endive, arugula, dandelion greens, etc.  I realize that many people do not enjoy them as much as I do, but I think it’s because they don’t know how to prepare them.  The sweetness of the cherries and balsamic vinegar are PERFECT for this salad.  Seriously.
  • Bittman mentions that hazelnuts should go in this salad and I agree, but I couldn’t find any.  Hence, the almonds, because cherries and almonds pair so very nicely.
  • I decided not to cook the cherries until they fell apart or as Bittman suggests, “break down.”   They were quite soft, but retained their structure and it worked.
  • With the idea of bitter firmly in my mind for this recipe, I bought a mixture and then decided which I’d used after I got home.  Dandelion greens and arugula didn’t make the cut because I was trying to keep it simple buy using only three, but they would be lovely in this.  If you’re new to bitter greens, I’d suggest using only one and adding butter lettuce, or red/green leaf as a base.
  • I had this for lunch.  The guys aren’t home right now, so it saved me from having to serve it for dinner.  Although I do normally give them opportunities to try all kinds of salads, this may have been a bit much for them, but they surprise me sometimes.  All the more reason to serve something different from time to time, right?
  • On the nutritional side of things, cherries are full of potassium, manganese, and are a good source of vitamins C and K.  Escarole was used for medicinal purposed thousands of years ago and is supposed to aid in digestion.  Normally, adding escarole to a salad with less bitter greens is a good way to introduce the vegetable.

Bittman Salad 29-1

What’s up next?  I happen to have some baby bok choy, so it appears that #11 could be next.  Of course I do have cucumbers and there are lots of variations I can make with those.

For the record:  I’m planning on making five salads from Bittman’s list each week.  That means I’ll finish sometime near November 1, long after everyone else in the Northern Hemisphere has forgotten summer and salad.  In San Diego, we’re lucky to have warm weather well into October and even November, so I can’t use that excuse to abandon this  project.  **Unfortunately, life’s business is what kept me from finishing this. Excuses, excuses!



Gonzo

27 thoughts on “Bittman Salad 29: Balsamic Cherries & Bitter Greens

  1. I love your idea, and can’t wait to see other creations, this one sounds pretty tasty.

    I read too Julie and Julia and can’t wait to see the movie.

    1. Thanks Laura — it’s definitely a less time consuming write up than many of the baked things I make, so that’s motivating. On the movie, I just watched Mama Mia again last night and really like Meryl Streep, so am thinking she’ll make the film.

    1. Thank you very much, Elyse! I have a tendency to throw in the towel right before finishing things, so I’ve girded my loins on this one and am determined to get it done ; )

  2. I’m loving the thought of this salad — and how appropriate, since cherries are perfectly ripe and in season (the produce guy at the market also told me the season this year will be short, since all the Washington cherries seem to have ripened all at once!)

    Can’t wait to follow your salad-making adventures. I’m pretty sure we could eat more of those great greens ourselves!! (meanwhile, we’re over at our blog making ice creams… yeeks! … we’re sure to need your salads to balance ourselves out at some point!)

    1. With all my disorganization the last few months, as strange as it may seem, I like the idea of having something to work my way through. Thanks, Esi ; )

  3. Wow. Lookin’ good! I think this is a great idea, and I like to see the ratios you use. Last year, Bittman’s article on “101 10 minute recipes for summer” became the backbone of my cooking. Perfect on nights where we had the age-old conversation of “What do you want to eat?” “I dunno, whatever you want to eat.” Now, I’ve got another to play with and your lead to follow.

  4. What a lovely salad! I love bitter greens in my salads and always try to mix at least one luscious fruit in too. Those cherries look like the perfect thing!

  5. Go Kelly!
    Ambitious, yet certainly doable. And delicious. Looking forward to seeing more.

  6. I loved, loved your previous one. Seemed so rustic, homely and welcoming. You know? It was like having masala chai ( mebbe coffee in your case :P) on a cold afternoon all by yourself with a book or with your blog. You get it no? :)

    1. Yes, I get it, but I’m laughing! Rustic most likely because I’m not into all that frilly, fancy stuff. I like the clean, minimalist presentation. Actually, I believe you mean that you recognized it and could be comfortable with it — yes, in my case coffee, but sometimes a sturdy Irish breakfast tea ; )

  7. OMG! This has to be the perfect summer salad! My mouth is watering & I’m in danger of drooling down my chin. Thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Beautiful photography, as always. I’ve only recently started using fruits in salads and think it’s such a delicious change, especially (as you say) with bitter greens. I’d definitely recommend trying apricots if you can get them. Can’t wait to see you work your way through Bittman’s book!

    1. Thank you very much! And great suggestion. I love apricots and think they’d be lovely in this as well. We’re out of season now, but there are other ways to consider, right?

  9. Hmmm… I just happen to have an abundance of Rainier cherries in my fridge as well. I think this is the point where I thank you for the inspiration (been looking for new ways to use them & haven’t tried them in green salad yet).

    1. Thanks ; ) I’m pretty upbeat about this right now so go figure! Any time I can rescue an ingredient from the depths of my fridge is a good day. And I’m reformed on thinking about how cherries fit into something other than a dessert, so anything goes now. Wait. I do believe I’ve tried them with roasted pork not too long ago? Hmmmm….

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