Frisée & Cherry salad with balsamic vinaigrette celebrates summer. Put together in less than 20 minutes, this chickpea-loaded salad with bitter-sweet flavor profile makes a quick light lunch.
If you find salads boring or insipid, you will change your opinion after eating this one. This salad features a scrumptious sweet-tarty-bitter-zesty flavor by combining cherries and (slightly) bitter frisée with zesty, tangy, garlicky balsamic vinaigrette.
Find frisée in your CSA share or farmers market
Frisée belongs to the chicory family and is closely related to Belgian endives and radicchio. Unlike its close cousins, however, frisée offers a radiant appearance with a glowing pale-green center surrounded by darker lacy fronds. If you are guessing the flavor, it's a bit of a surprise: slightly bitter, but much milder than its close relatives. I received a couple of heads of frisée in my CSA share, but you can find in farmers' market or even in your local grocery stores. If frisée is not available, you can totally replace it with arugula.
When choosing frisée, or for that matter any other type of greens for your salads, do make sure that they are fresh and crisp. Sad and limp greens make a sad and limp salad. It's that simple. Also, please choose organic greens. Organic greens taste much better than their non-organic version due to the absence of pesticides.
The effort of washing greens before making a salad often derails our intentions to create a beautiful, scrumptious salad like this frisée & cherry salad with balsamic vinaigrette. I would have asked to skip this step if I could, but I can't. Washing greens thoroughly before making a salad is of utmost importance. Most greens are grown close to ground and hence carry some amount of dirt on them. You really don't want to engage in an effort making a elaborate salad just to find out that it's ridden with soil and grit. Here are two options to make it easy to wash greens:
- Buy triple-washed salad from grocery store.
- Buy a salad spinner and leave it on your counter top. You are more likely to make salads if that spinner is within your easy reach. When buying a salad spinner, do consider the size of your family as spinners come in various sizes.
Adding flavors to frisée
Since frisée tends to be slightly bitter, adding a fruit balances the flavor perfectly. Cherries are in the season: full of antioxidants, the sweet-tartness of cherries lends the perfect flavor balance. Other fruit choices would include granny smith apples, blueberries, strawberries, and pears. If you are a fan of cherries, investing in a cherry pitter saves time.
Homemade balsamic vinaigrette brings all the ingredients together in this frisée & cherry salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Most commercially-available salad dressings are full of chemicals and don't taste as good as the homemade ones. This balsamic vinaigrette perfectly complements the tart-sweet-bitter flavor of frisée and cherry.
Add beans & nuts (or seeds) to make a complete meal
Chickpeas make a great addition to this frisée & cherry salad with balsamic vinaigrette due to their slightly mellow flavor. I have not tried it yet, but navy or cannellini beans would be fine too. You can also add quinoa in addition to beans to make it more filling. This salad makes an excellent light lunch when paired with beans/grains.
I have used walnuts in this salad, but have also tried it with pecans, almonds, and pumpkin seeds (for the nut-free version). Adding nuts, i.e., healthy fats, further adds to the taste of the salad and keep you full longer.
Meal plan this salad for lunch or a side dish
If you have fresh frisée and any of the fruits mentioned above, it is a breeze to put together this salad. Here are some helpful tips to make it easier to make this salad on busy days:
- I like to cook my beans from scratch but also not averse to using canned if in a hurry. If cooking from scratch, I prepare the beans a day in advance and store in an airtight container in a refrigerator. If using canned, just remember to add to your grocery shopping list and rinse well and drain right before making the salad.
- It's also best to make the balsamic vinaigrette a day ahead to assemble the salad quickly on a working day. The vinaigrette stays fresh in an airtight container stored in a refrigerator for about 3-4 days.
Step-by-step recipe of frisée & cherry salad with balsamic vinaigrette
Do let me know if you make this recipe. Enjoy!
Frisée & Cherry salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Salad Spinner
- Cherry Pitter
To make the balsamic vinaigrette
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (can sub with apple cider or white wine vinegar)
- 2 shallots
- 1 tsp mustard (pre-prepared, any variety, spicy brown variety used here)
- 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pinches salt
- 2 pinches freshly-ground black pepper
- 3 tsp maple syrup
- 8 dried cherries (can sub with raisins, dried cranberries, or 1 tsp maple syrup)
- 1 clove garlic (add two if you want your dressing to be super garlicky)
For the salad
- 1 head frisée (1 head, ~8 cups)
- 3 cups cherries (pitted and halved, ~3/4 lb, 6-7 cherries/serving)
- 3 cups garbanzo beans (cooked and drained, or 2-15oz cans)
- 6 pinches black pepper (freshly-ground)
- 1/3 cup walnuts (lightly toasted or raw, or sub with equal quantity pecans, almonds, or pumpkin seeds (nut-free option))
To make the balsamic vinaigrette
- Wash and peel shallots and garlic. Add with all other balsamic vinaigrette ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth and well-mixed.
To put the salad together
- Tear the frisée into bite-size pieces. Wash under running water, preferably in a salad spinner. Dry with a paper towel or spin until leaves are reasonably dry. If using canned garbanzo beans, rinse well under running water.
- Add the frisée to a big salad bowl with pitted and halved cherries, chickpeas, and freshly-ground black pepper. Toss with the balsamic vinaigrette (about 2tbsp per serving) and top with toasted walnuts. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Use 2 baked and cubed beets instead of cherries.
- Replace cherries with three thinly-sliced pears
- If avoiding oil, replace olive oil with equal amount water.