Bitter Leaf and Orange Salad is a classic salad combination that’s particularly good to serve with rich or meat heavy mains such as roasts. Use radicchio, endive, witlof, watercress, escaraloe or rocket/arugula – a mix like I have, or just one.
Tossed with an Orange Poppyseed Dressing to double up on the citrus flavour and add a hint of lovely nuttiness, terrific festive looking salad!
Here we are at Day 3 of the inaugural Holiday Salad Marathon, a series where I’m bringing you a new salad recipe every single day through to Christmas Eve!
Today’s salad is a classic everyone should know: A Bitter Leaf and Orange Salad, ideal for holiday feasts both for its festive appearance and because it goes so well with rich and heavy mains!
Bitter Leaf and Orange Salad
This is a wonderful salad to serve at big holiday feasts where there’s a lot of rib-sticking foods for the mains because the astringency of the lettuce and fresh juicy orange freshens the palate and cut through rich foods. Think – rich roasts, a grand golden turkey and holiday glazed hams!
It’s also a salad that just looks terrific on any table – bright and cheerful.
The idea is that the sweet and juicy fruit balances out the mildly bitter tang of the lettuce. I’m also using Orange Poppyseed Dressing to really drive home that sweet citrus flavour.
Wondering what bitter leaf actually is?
Bitter leaf salad leaves are simply any leafy greens that have a pleasantly bitter bite to their taste (like hops in beer). They include the chicory family plus others.
Bitter leaves include:
radicchio – the crispy purple lettuce heads with white stems
frisée lettuce (aka curly endive)
witlof (aka Belgian endive)
I just bought a pre-mixed box of bitter leaves from Harris Farm. It’s called “Italian Mix” and it has rocket, radicchio and frisee.
Because they have a bit of a bitter edge to them, they go very well with sweet dressings as well as salty or creamy toppings (like sharp cheeses). Today, we’re going with sweet – naturally sweet orange and poppyseed dressing!
What you need for Bitter Leaf and Orange Salad
You just need TWO ingredients – any bitter leaf leafy greens (any listed above – just one type or combo), and oranges. I just used a premix box simply labelled as an “Italian Mix” which had rocket, radicchio and frisee. Using a combination is nice for a variety of colour and texture.
Preparing the oranges
Cut the skin off and pith (white part) off the oranges. Get all that pith off – our salad is already bitter, remember! Then just slice the oranges pretty thinly, removing seeds as you spy them. I like to slice into rounds because it looks striking when nestled amongst the salad leaves, but you could segment if you prefer.
What goes in Orange Poppyseed Dressing
And here’s what you need for the Orange Poppyseed Dressing:
The poppyseed brings a touch of lovely nuttiness to the flavour as well as looking quite striking when you see it drizzled across the bright orange slices!
Meanwhile the zest doubles down on the lovely orange flavour we already have going on.
What to serve with Bitter Leaf and Orange Salad
This is a salad that’s particularly good served alongside rich foods because the bitter flavour of the lettuce balances out the heaviness of the main meal, while the orange acts as a palate cleanser. We usually serve it alongside roasts – I’m a big fan of this Bitter Leaf Salad with Pork Roast with Crackling, and also any roast lamb (especially Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder or Lamb Leg).
As a salad with Italian roots, it also is naturally at home with absolutely any Italian food, whether pasta, risottos or classic secondi like osso buco.
It also brings terrific colour to the table, with the bright orange slices contrasting nicely against the leafy greens – perfect as part of a festive spread.
No video today for this simple recipe! Though if you ask nicely / feel like there’s a step here you’d like a visual for, drop a comment below and I can make a video! – Nagi x
What is the Holiday Salad Marathon?
This is my inaugural Christmas recipe countdown where I am sharing 30 salad recipes in a row until Christmas Eve – something completely different to people’s usual baking countdowns!
These salads are in addition to my regular 3 new recipes a week. Because aren’t you bored of the usual tomato-cucumber-lettuce garden salad routine??
Click here to see all the Holiday Salad Marathon recipes to date, or sign up for instant updates and you’ll receive a free email alert whenever I publish a new salad! 🙂
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Bitter Leaf and Orange Salad with Orange Poppyseed Dressing
- 200g / 6 oz bitter leaves (~8 cups, packed) , such as endive, chicory and radicchio (either a mix or one kind, Note 1)
- 2 large oranges (any kind)
Orange and poppy seed dressing:
- 2 tbsp apple cider or white wine vinegar
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or a nut oil
- 1 tsp grated orange zest , lightly packed
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
- Put leaves into a large mixing bowl. Tear or cut any large leaves into smaller bite size pieces.
- Peel oranges and remove skin and all outer pith (white part) using a knife.
- Slice into 0.7 cm / 1/3″ thick wheels and deseed. Alternatively, segment oranges. Add to leaves.
- Mix or shake Dressing ingredients in a jar until sugar dissolves.
- Dress salad and toss.
Life of Dozer
Bizarrely shiny new baking tray! Won’t be like this for long, that’s for sure…😂
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