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Bitter Greens Salad with Melted Cheese

Portland, Oregon:  You had me at melted cheese. With the weather turning nasty in Portland, and after a month of self-imposed veganism, I was ready for a recipe that featured melted cheese. This salad is quite intriguing - it calls for arugula and radicchio (both bitter), tossed in a simple vinaigrette - nothing unusual so far - but then sprinkled with grated cheese and broiled for just a minute or so before serving, and garnished with chopped hazelnuts. Intriguing? It was to me.

The original salad recipe, from Joshua McFadden (the veggie-loving chef at Ava Gene's Roman-style restaurant in Portland) is individually plated and baked in a 350° oven for a minute. A newer version, now floating around the interweb calls for the salad to be broiled for one minute to melt the cheese. I tried the broiled version, using Fontina cheese, plating the dressed salad on a stainless steel tray. We really liked the salad, but it was very vinegary. Not only are the (already bitter!) greens dressed with a red wine vinaigrette, balsamic is drizzled over just before serving.

Pretty, but too much vinegar for me/us.

So, I tried it (half recipe) again the next day, by making the vinaigrette with 1 Tablespoon balsamic, 4 Tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. After tossing the vinaigrette with the greens, I plated the salads individually, sprinkled the cheese over and baked the salads for 2 minutes at 350 degrees.

Oops! Took the photo before the hazelnut garnish.

No additional balsamic drizzle. Enough is enough. The second dressing was much better, but I think we preferred the broiled cheese as opposed to the baked cheese. Even though my plates are rated only to a 350° oven, I feel they can take one minute under a broiler without damage.

Next time: the second version dressing, individually plated, one minute under the broiler, garnished with hazelnuts. Done.

Does this recipe sound intriguing to you? Delicious or hideous?

Until my next update, I remain, your puckered correspondent.