I love bold tasting greens. From peppery arugula to bitter radicchio. I often use these greens as a base for a main course salad. In which case I’m likely to toss these greens with something warm. It helps soften the boldest of greens, creating a delicious dichotomy of texture. Chicken Liver Salad is a classic example. Lately, I’ve been making a lighter version using mushrooms baked in foil pouches. I call it Baked Mushroom and Broken Bread Salad. In the Agrigento region of Sicily, mushrooms are wrapped in butcher’s paper then buried in hot ashes. I’ve simplified this traditional preparation (known as funci ‘ncartati or sometimes funghi al cartoccio) to make this broken bread salad.
Baked Mushroom and Broken Bread Salad with Bitter Greens
But the success of this salad relies on more than just warm mushrooms. It also calls for toasted broken bread pieces and a big pile of bitter greens. The warm peppery bread is easy to love. In fact, it’s practically comfort food all on its own. But when it comes to the greens, well, a lot of people have trouble with their bold, bitter flavor. But like everything else worth eating this broken bread salad with bitter greens is just really a matter of harmony. Using a variety of greens with varying flavors can help soften the bite. But there are other ways to balance the bitter too. The sweetness of balsamic vinegar is a popular choice. But it’s not always the perfect answer, in my view. The best antidote for a bitter bite is a salty kick. Think of how often naturally bitter mushroom beg for a few grains of sea salt to mellow the flavor. Anchovies work well too. This salad features just enough anchovy to bring all the conflicting tastes and textures together. GREG