Chicory salad brings a bright spot to winter tables

Honey and mustard flavor a sweet-tart vinaigrette that balances the bitter notes in the chicories. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Combined ShapeCaption
Honey and mustard flavor a sweet-tart vinaigrette that balances the bitter notes in the chicories. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Gingerbread was invited to every open house. Eggnog was the toast of the town. Escarole, endive, radicchio? Shut-ins of the crisper bin. No wonder they’re bitter.

And misunderstood. Most greens celebrate spring, summer or fall. In winter, escarole is ready to roll. Radicchio too: the darker the days, the brighter the leaves; the colder the weather, the sweeter the crop.

So invite a bunch. Curly frisee, creamy endive, unruly escarole and tender radicchio can be braised mellow. Or simply torn and tossed. The fresh flavor and crisp crunch offer a welcome respite from the heavy lifting of beef Wellington. The bitter bite can be balm to the sugar-shocked. And the leaves, even when sharpened with mustard and sweetened with honey, are sturdy enough to linger all night long.

Plus, they need no time to prep.

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 CHICORY SALAD 

Prep: 15 minutes

Makes: 8 to 10 servings

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons honey (warm briefly to make measuring easier)

1 large head escarole, leaves separated and torn

1 large head frisee or 2 heads Belgian endive, leaves separated and torn

1 large (or 2 small) head(s) radicchio, leaves separated and torn

1/4 cup snipped fresh chives

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Whisk: In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, oil and honey.

2. Toss: In a large salad bowl, toss together escarole, frisee, radicchio and chives.

3. Dress: Drizzle greens with dressing to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Toss.

Provenance: Inspired by Bon Appetit.

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