Gnarled horseradish root in its native state may look positively prehistoric, but it was not the original maror, or bitter herb, of the ancients. Biblical scholars surmise that greens like chicory, dandelion, sorrel, and hyssop, which grow wild in Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, first symbolized the bitterness of bondage at seders.
Many Jews still use bitter greens, especially romaine, not only for maror, but also for hazeret, the other bitter herb called for on some seder plates. Why eat two different bitter herbs? According to the Mishnah, since the Bible speaks of bitter herbs in the plural, we are required to eat more than one kind.
This salad, combining several of these bitter herbs with chunks of fresh orange, offers a lovely contrast to a lush brisket or braised lamb.
Make the dressing: combine the lemon juice, shallot, thyme, and zest in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the greens in a large bowl. Top with the radishes, scallions, and dill. Toss with enough of the dressing to coat. Add the oranges and toss again.
© 2008 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.