Bitter Greens with Maple-Onion Dressing

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Bitter Greens with Maple-Onion DressingIt’s so unfortunate that this group of greens is dubbed “bitter.” Sure, they’re intensely flavored, but in a pleasantly piquant way, especially when dressed with the sweetness of caramelized onions. And they’re perfect for winter, when not only do you want something hearty, but the best of these are in season.

  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Total Time: 1 Hour


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large white or yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup black olives (preferably oil cured), pitted
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or more to taste
  • 4 cups chopped green bitter greens (like escarole, chicory, or frisée)
  • 1 cup chopped radicchio or Belgian endive
How to Make It
  1. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. When it’s hot, add the onions, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and the syrup. Raise the heat a bit until the mixture sizzles, then adjust the heat so the onions cook steadily without browning. Add the olives and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and deeply colored, at least 30 minutes and possibly up to 60. (You can prepare the recipe up to this point and let the onions sit at room temperature for up to a few hours or refrigerate for longer, then reheat gently.)
  2. Add the remaining oil, the vinegar, and 1 tablespoon water and stir to make a dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more vinegar or water if you’d like. Put the greens and radicchio in a large bowl, add the onion dressing, toss, and serve.
  3. BITTER GREENS WITH CARAMELIZED FENNEL DRESSING Instead of the onions, use 2 large fennel bulbs. Trim the tops, reserving some of the tender fronds to chop and toss with the salad right before serving. Cut the bulbs in half, core, and thinly slice crosswise. Proceed with the recipe.
  4. CABBAGE SALAD WITH CARAMELIZED ONION OR FENNEL DRESSING Replace the bitter greens and radicchio with 5 cups shredded Napa or Savoy cabbage in the main recipe or the first variation.

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