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Simple, tangy vegetarian salad

A good salad strikes a perfect balance of textures and flavors

By CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL, Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street
Published: April 10, 2024, 6:04am

A good salad strikes a perfect balance of textures and flavors, but it’s easy to overdo it with rich ingredients, especially when striving to add savory elements. For a vegetarian salad that hits all the right notes, combine tangy cheese with meaty mushrooms and bitter greens.

In this recipe from our book “Tuesday Nights Mediterranean,” which features weeknight-friendly meals from the region, we combine roasted portobello mushrooms with fresh goat cheese, toasted walnuts and a combination of bitter radicchio and frisée, adding a touch of sweetness with a honeyed red wine vinaigrette.

To begin, we coat sliced mushrooms with olive oil seasoned with garlic, thyme, salt and pepper to highlight their savory character, then roast until the moisture they release evaporates and the slices begin to brown. The greens and cheese can be prepared during the 10 minutes the mushrooms are in the oven, and the vinaigrette is made as they cool.

We like the texture and color of frisée and radicchio, but if you prefer leafier greens, use watercress or arugula — which tend to be peppery instead of bitter. To make the salad more filling, serve with sliced baguette and garnish individual portions with a poached egg.

Frisee and Mushroom Salad With Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Start to finish: 35 minutes. Servings: 4 to 6

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated

½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 pound portobello mushrooms, stemmed and sliced ½ inch thick

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

½ cup walnuts, toasted, ¼ cup chopped and reserved separately

1 head frisée (about 7 ounces), torn into bite-size pieces (about 7 cups)

1 small head radicchio (about 6 ounces), thinly sliced (about 2½ cups)

4 ounces fresh goat cheese (chèvre), crumbled

Heat the oven to 500 degrees with a rack in the middle position. In a large bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of oil, the garlic, thyme and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and toss to coat. Distribute in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet; reserve the bowl. Roast the mushrooms until the moisture they release has evaporated and the slices begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool while you prepare the dressing and toss the greens.

In the reserved bowl, whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons oil, the vinegar, mustard, honey, chopped walnuts and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add the frisée and radicchio, then toss to combine.

Mound the greens on a serving platter and arrange the mushrooms on top. Scatter the goat cheese over the salad and sprinkle with the remaining walnuts.

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