This Bitter Greens Salad with Melted Cheese Kinda Like a Twist on Healthy Nachos

There's never been a tastier way to eat your greens.

Broiled cheesy salad with bitter greens
Photo: Greg Dupree

After a long and dreary winter filling salad bowls with equally blah greens (like flavorless romaine and watery iceberg), the greens arriving in farmers markets this month are offering the special vibrancy dinnertime needs.

"Their leaves are very sweet and tender right now," says Joshua McFadden, the chef and owner of Ava Gene's and Cicoria in Portland, Oregon, and the author of Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables (Buy It, $36,

But if you're over cold salads and want to eat your greens in something warm, creative, and, well, cheesy, this healthy nachos-salad hybrid is calling your name.

Pick assertive greens, like arugula, endive, radicchio, mizuna, watercress, and dandelion, to add a bold flavor to this dish—and others. "The key is to combine them with ingredients that are just as robust and that also soften their bitterness," says McFadden. Go for ingredients that have sweet notes, like balsamic vinegar, or creaminess, like cheese, or try a bitter-greens Caesar salad: "The rich dressing, the salty anchovies, and the fat of the cheese pair perfectly with the bite of the greens," says McFadden. For an even sharper dish, "char leaves in a pan with lots of saba, an Italian syrup, or reduced balsamic vinegar and a grating of sharp cheese" (like one of these ultra-healthy picks).

Another fan favorite? This bitter greens salad. With crisped radicchio and arugula smothered in cheese, this dish is like the ultimate recipe for healthy nachos. (Warning: You might need a fork for these, though.)

Bitter Greens Salad with Melted Cheese

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Serves: 6


  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large head radicchio, cored and coarsely shredded
  • 5 ounces arugula
  • 4 ounces aged provolone, Taleggio, or fontina cheese, grated
  • ½ cup roughly chopped lightly toasted hazelnuts
  • Saba or balsamic vinegar, for drizzling


  1. Heat the broiler to high.
  2. Whisk the red vinegar with the olive oil in a large bowl, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the radicchio and arugula, and toss to coat. Taste, and adjust the seasoning.
  3. Pile the salad on ovenproof plates or an ovenproof platter, and top with cheese. Broil the salad just until cheese melts, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts on top, and finish with a drizzle of saba or balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.
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