Skip to main content
Voraciously
Cooking tips and recipes, plus food news and views.
The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

It’s better to be bitter. These 5 recipes prove it.

Placeholder while article actions load

Are you bitter?

While the word might invoke less than stellar connotations, tasting your way through bitter foods is like taking an alluring stroll through the complex, mysterious side of the world. And as Jennifer McLagan writes in her book “Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, With Recipes” (Ten Speed Press, 2014), “Without bitterness we lose a way to balance sweetness, and by rejecting it we limit our range of flavors. Food without bitterness lacks depth and complexity.”

We couldn’t agree more. So, are you bitter? No. You’re complex and interesting; don’t let anyone tell you — or these delightfully bitter recipes from our archives — otherwise.

Endive Salad With Dijon Dressing and Honey Pistachios, above. The slight bitter notes of Belgian endive, a variety of chicory, pair very well with a creamy, Dijon-mustard-spiked dressing. The honey-coated pistachios are worth doubling, to sprinkle on your morning fruit and yogurt bowl. (For those keeping track at home, the nuts may remind you of the turmeric and honey-roasted walnuts from this roasted fennel salad.)


Grilled Radicchio With Cherry-Balsamic Dressing. The kiss of a grill (or a cast-iron skillet) deepens radicchio’s bitterness while adding a pleasant char. A dressing of red cherries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and shallot provides the ideal sweet counterpoint. (Use frozen cherries if you’d like.) We love this recipe for its simplicity, but know that radicchio also pairs well with cheese: See this Manchego, Dried Apricots, Fennel and Radicchio Salad and this Ricotta, Zucchini and Radicchio Sandwich for more inspiration.


Sauteed Broccoli Rabe. Blanching the green stalks (meaning briefly submerging the vegetable in boiling water and then dunking them in a bowl of ice water) mellows — but doesn’t entirely mute — broccoli rabe’s mustardy bitterness. You can blanch, cool and drain the stalks up to four days ahead of time, then saute with some oil, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes for a mere two minutes until you’ve got a warm, tender side dish.


Basil-Grilled Tuna With Bitter GreensA few pieces of fresh tuna get marinated in a mixture of garlic, basil and lemon juice before being quickly seared in a grill pan (or a skillet if you don’t have one). The salad is a mix of radicchio, endive and dandelion greens; substitute arugula if you can’t find the latter.


NegroniIs there a more perfect cocktail than the bittersweet and faintly herbal Negroni? We think not. It’s made with equal parts of Campari, sweet vermouth and gin (so easy to remember!) and served simply over ice with a thick orange or lemon peel to garnish. Because the Negroni is perfect and beyond compare, it can be sipped in any season; but if you’re looking for an especially summery version, the Frogroni — blended with strawberries and ice — is a good thing to know about.

More from Voraciously:

Not just for vegans: How to rock your tofu with cheese, eggs — and even meat

7 skewer recipes that prove anything can taste better on a stick

Stay cool this summer with a pitcher of breezy watermelon agua fresca

Loading...