One of our favorite salad greens, not served often enough in the U.S., is frisée (free-ZAY), curly endive that’s a member of the chicory family. In France, it is formally known as chicorée frisée. (See the different types of endive.)
There are many ways to serve a salade frisée, but a universal favorite is frisée aux lardons, Lyonnaise-style frisée salad.
This salad tops the frisée with a poached egg and lardons—crisp, browned chunks of pork belly—and a sherry vinaigrette. When you cut into it, the runny egg yolk gives the salad a wonderful, silky coat.
Another favorite variation includes crumbled Roquefort cheese or goat cheese with a fan-sliced pear and a few toasted walnut halves. It’s a great flavor layering of bitter from the frisée, salty and smoky from the lardons, sweet from the fruit and tangy vinaigrette.
You can serve salade frisée as a light lunch with crusty rustic bread, as a first course, or with soup for a light dinner.
An Italian touch: burrata cheese. Photo
courtesy Il Mulino Restaurant | NYC.
GETTING CREATIVE WITH FRISÉE
You can create your own signature frisée salad by adding some of these mix-and-match ingredients:
Fruits, Nuts, Vegetables
Apple or pear, red skinned, fan-sliced
Arugula or watercress
Avocado (pair it with grapefruit)
Citrus: grapefruit, orange, blood orange or mandarin
Dried fruit: cherries, cranberries, currants
Figs (combine with prosciutto)
Fresh herbs: chives, tarragon, thyme, parsley
Nuts, toasted: pecans, pistachios, walnuts
Red accent: diced red pepper, tomato or watermelon; halved grape tomatoes; pomegrante arils
Chef Michael Mina varies the frisée salad by
substituting a Scotch egg for the traditional
poached egg. Photo courtesy Michael Mina.
Bacon, pork belly lardons, pancetta, prosciutto, slab bacon lardons
Cheese: burrata, fried cheese (recipe), goat cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Roquefort or other blue cheese
Chicken or duck breast, sliced
Cracklings & sautéed liver: chicken or duck
Egg, poached (hen or quail)
Fish or seafood: crab, lobster, scallops, shrimp
You can also add a touch of the sea with this side of white anchovy bruschetta.
You can use a classic vinaigrette or a Dijon vinaigrette, but consider these special variations:
Bacon vinaigrette (recipe)
Sherry or red wine vinaigrette with olive oil
Truffle vinaigrette, with truffle oil
Walnut vinaigrette, with walnut oil
For another special touch, warm the vinaigrette in the microwave right before dressing the salad.
WHAT IS FRISÉE
Frisée is a salad green with distinctive pale, very narrow, curly leaves that grow in a bush-like cluster and are feathery in appearance. The name means “curly.”
Frisée is often included in mesclun and other salad mixes. It is extremely labor-intensive to grow, and therefore one of the costliest salad ingredients.
For that reason, it isn’t a conventional supermarket item, but can be found at upscale markets and purveyors of fine produce.
Frisée has a distinctive flavor and a delightful bitterness—less bitter than its cousins endive and radicchio. Its exotic feathery appearance has great eye appeal. Tips for using it:
As with many salad greens, tear it rather cut it with a knife, or the edges may brown. Tear it shortly before use.
The tough, external leaves are best used as a plate garnish or fed to the gerbil.
Dress the salad right before bringing it to the table, so that it doesn’t discolor or become waterlogged.
The chicory genus is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, especially folate and vitamins A and K.