An Unusual Italian Salad

Ellen Silverman / The Splendid Table
Bitter greens with candied lemon peel, pine nuts, balsamico, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese become a salad destined for the holidays. The idea of this salad began in a favorite sourcean Italian Renaissance cookbook from 1570, The Opera Bartolomeo Scappi, (now in translation from the University of Toronto Press, 2008). What charms me about the dish is how new it feels.
Wine: Salads can be very tricky with wines, and this one is particularly so because of its sweetness, and the intense zestiness of the vinegar. However, you can make a terrific match with a German Riesling made from ripe grapes (look for "Kabinett" or "Spätlese" on the label), but finished dry ("Trocken") or off-dry ("Habltrocken").
  • 2 heads frisée (curly endive) (6 to 7 cups, washed, dried and torn into bite sized pieces)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons good tasting extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • About 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved into long furls
  • 1/3 cup Candied Lemon Peel, homemade or store bought, cut into 1/2-inch sticks
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Syrup


1. Place the frisée into a large bowl and have 4 to 6 individual salad plates at hand. Sprinkle the greens with the salt, pepper and the olive oil. Toss and then add the wine vinegar. Toss again and taste for oil-vinegar balance.
2. Heap greens on each plate, and tuck the cheese furls and lemon peel here and there into the greens. Scatter with the pine nuts and drizzle each pile with a few streaks of the balsamic syrup. Serve immediately.
4 to 6 servings

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