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Insalata Verde


Chef notes

We are devoted to this salad. We eat it every day. We crave it, in fact, and it is at our dining table nightly. Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter. The greens have been purposefully chosen for their different textures and flavors: Some sweet and crunchy, others peppery, bitter or soft. Take good care of your leaves. Wash and dry them gently so they stay crisp. Our objective from the beginning was to create the quintessential green salad. Now, when we look around the dining room, on just about every table, we see a tower of bright green leaves, drizzled with our vinaigrette. We’re proud of this bowl of simplicity. It is OK to eat with your hands.


Via Carota Vinaigrette (makes about 1 cup)
  • 1 shallot, very finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon (2 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.5 grams) salt
  • 6 stems fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) aged sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) warm water
  • 3/4 cup (180 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head butter lettuce, such as Bibb or Boston
  • a few pieces of frisee (about 6)
  • 2 handfuls little gem lettuce leaves or other crisp lettuce
  • a small handful peppercress or watercress
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) Via Carota Vinaigrette (recipe above)
  • 3 spears Belgian endive


For the Via Carota Vinaigrette:

Place the shallots in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse with cold water. Drain them and transfer to a small bowl with the garlic, sugar and salt. Strip the thyme leaves off the stems and finely chop the leaves (for about 1 teaspoon thyme); stir into the bowl. Stir in the vinegar and water. Pour the olive oil into the bowl in a slow stream, whisking all the while until emulsified.

The vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

For the salad:


Pull off any wilted or bruised outer leaves from the butter lettuce. Set aside the floppy, darker green leaves for another use; you will only use the pale inner head. Wash the leaves in two changes of water: First, fill a basin with lukewarm water, and soak the lettuces in it, swishing with your hands. Lift the leaves out and drain in a colander. Second, wash the leaves in cold water, again swishing them with your hands and lifting them out. Rinse the leaves well. Slice the frisee leaves into smaller pieces and separate the little gem leaves and remove any tough stems from the cress; wash them in the same way.


Spin all the leaves dry in a salad spinner, then spread them out on a large, lint-free kitchen towel. In all, you will have about 6 handfuls of mixed leaves. Gently press on them with another towel and roll them up completely.


Place all the leaves in the largest bowl you can find. Season them with a good pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Drizzle in most of the vinaigrette, tossing with your hands to coat the leaves thoroughly.


Lay the leaves on a plate in gradual stages, so they can be piled high without falling. Tuck the endive spears around the sides and drizzle with a little bit more vinaigrette.

From "Via Carota: A Celebration of Seasonal Cooking from the Beloved Greenwich Village Restaurant" by Jody Williams and Rita Sodi, with Anna Kovel. Copyright © 2022 by Jody Williams and Rita Sodi. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.