Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Belgian Endive and Walnut Salad

Belgian Endive and Walnut Salad

Pears and blue cheese make this the perfect winter salad

Looking for a winter starter? Something fast enough for weeknights, but elegant enough for company?

We’ve got it! This Belgian Endive and Walnut Salad makes the season bright. Just add pears (which are at the height of their season) and tangy blue cheese (we opt for French Roquefort), and you have an easy dish that will make your tongue tingle.

And tingle rhymes with jingle.


Belgian Endive and Walnut Salad

Recipe: Belgian Endive and Walnut Salad

Belgian Endive and Walnut Salad is a classic French dish. Blue cheese, usually Roquefort (it’s French, after all), is a typical garnish. We add pears, which give the dish a pleasantly sweet note.

This dish takes 10 to 15 minutes to prepare.

The recipe serves 4, but you can easily scale it up or down.

Ingredients

For the vinaigrette:
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar 
  • a couple pinches of kosher salt (to taste – no more than ¼ teaspoon; see Notes)
  • a few grinds of black pepper (about half a dozen for us)
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard (or to taste; we often increase this to a teaspoon)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (the better the oil, the better the vinaigrette)
For the salad:
  • 4 heads of Belgian endive (about 1 pound or a bit less; or to taste)
  • ~1 cup walnut pieces
  • ~6 ounces blue cheese (or to taste; we prefer Roquefort)
  • 2 pears (whichever variety looks best in your market)
Procedure
  1. Prepare the vinaigrette: Add all the ingredients for the vinaigrette to a small lidded jar or container. Shake vigorously until the ingredients are well combined (the mustard helps form an emulsion). You can make the vinaigrette hours ahead of time – just refrigerate it until ready to make the salad. Shake the container to reform the emulsion right before using.
  2. Prepare the Belgian endive: Cut off their root ends, then cut them across their width into pieces of about ½ inch. Place the pieces in a bowl of cold water (or just fill the kitchen sink) and agitate with your fingers to clean off any sand or dirt. If you see more than a little bit of sand or grit in the bottom of the bowl, empty it and clean the endive again. Spin the Belgian endive pieces dry in a salad spinner, then wrap them in a kitchen towel and refrigerate them until you’re ready to make the salad.
  3. Prepare the walnut pieces: Measure them out, then chop them roughly (if they’re large) and place them in an airtight container until ready to use.
  4. Prepare the cheese: Break or cut the cheese into chunks of ½ inch or less. Place the cheese chunks in an airtight container and refrigerate them until ready to use.
  5. When ready to make the salad: Place the Belgian endive pieces in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Toss them with the vinaigrette (shake the vinaigrette first) until they’re thoroughly coated. Plate the endive pieces. 
  6. Wash the pears, peel them, then cut them into quarters. Cut away the woody core, then cut the pears into thin slices. Arrange the slices atop the endive on each salad plate.
  7. Distribute the chopped walnuts and blue cheese chunks over each salad. Serve and enjoy.
Belgian Endive and Walnut Salad

Notes
  • We don’t usually toast the walnuts, but you could do that if you wish.
  • You may want to chop some parsley and add it to the dish as extra garnish.
  • Roquefort cheese (which is made from sheep’s milk) has a sharp, tangy flavor. But its flavor isn’t as overwhelming as that of some other blue cheeses. You can substitute another blue cheese if you want, but the flavor profile will be somewhat different.
  • Once you cut the pears, they begin to oxidize and turn brown. That’s why we slice them right before serving. If you want to slice the pears ahead of time, submerge them in a solution of 50% water and 50% lemon juice to retard the oxidation.
  • If you prefer, you can add the pear slices and walnuts to the Belgian endive pieces before you toss them with the vinaigrette. Plate everything, then add the blue cheese chunks. 
  • Pears usually are picked when they’re mature, but not fully ripe. They ripen at room temperature, so the ones you find at your supermarket may already have reached peak maturity by the time you buy them. If in doubt, ask the produce people to help you select pears that are at their best.
  • We used Bartlett pears in the salad we photographed for this post (because they’re plentiful and of good quality at the moment). Bosc pears would also be a good choice.
  • We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours. (And remember, blue cheese is salty.)
  • Programming Note:  We’re taking off the rest of the year. We’ll be back January 8, 2020 with a new post. We hope everyone has a terrific holiday season!
Belgian Endive and Walnut Salad

The Pear of Us

“Great salad,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Good to the bitter endive.”

“Roques my fort!” I said.

“That was kind of cheesy,” said Mrs K R. “Did the Dijon go to your nose?”

“It’s just my holiday spirit kicking up,” I said. “Guess I’m off my nut.”

“Never knew salad could be so dangerous,” said Mrs K R. “Maybe we should stick to cocktails.”

Happy Holidays! Don’t do anything you’ll vinaigrette.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Belgian Endive Salad with Olives
Italian Celery and Mushroom Salad
Fennel and Pear Salad
Moroccan-Spiced Orange and Olive Salad
Braised Belgian Endive
Roast Belgian Endive
Blue Cheese Dressing with (or without) Wedge Salad
Fennel, Orange, and Arugula Salad
Or check out the index for more

78 comments:

  1. That's a marvelous winter salad! I too love pairing blue cheese with the endive. Walnuts add such a nice crunch to it.

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    1. Hi Angie, this is a terrific combo of flavors -- SO nice. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  2. What a fantastic winter salad! I love the combination of pears with cheese. Have a wonderful couple of holidays!

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    1. Hi Jeff, isn't this neat? One of those dishes that has been around forever -- and for very good reason! Thanks for the comment. And Happy Holidays!

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  3. John, we love endive! We make an appetizer similar to this in which the whole endive leaves are used to scoop up chopped endive, walnut bits and blue cheese. It is always a hit. The pear in your salad adds another wonderful flavor layer. Nice!

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    1. Hi Terry, whole endive leaves make great scoops. Blue cheese and walnut is a terrific flavor combo -- love the mix of flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  4. This is a salad with many wonderful versions — sometimes dried cherries or cranberries, sometimes goat cheese instead of blue, sometimes other greens for endive. But always delicious!

    I thought of you when I had a passion fruit mojito recently. Very nice.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Mae, passion fruit mojito sounds wonderful! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  5. Delicious salad anytime of year but it would be nice with Christmas dinner too.

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    1. Hi Pam, this is really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  6. I was just looking for a salad to make for Christmas dinner! This is it!

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    1. Hi Ashley, it is it! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. I love this combination. I think I might like winter salads more than those more typical of the spring and summer. These flavors are so excellent together. Enjoy the holiday season, John! :-) ~Valentina

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    1. Hi Valentina, we tend to like winter salads a bit more, too -- maybe because there are fewer seasonal ingredients, so we have to think a bit more about how we combine them. Thanks for the comment, and Happy Holidays!

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  8. Oh yum, healthy and delicious, love it!

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    1. Hi Natalia, we love it too! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Great salad John. We love pear over rocket with pine nuts and Roquefort, so this is a natural for us. Thanks for giving me a new pear salad to try.
    Enjoy your time off and have a safe and wonderful holiday season.

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    1. Hi Ron, pine nuts would be excellent in this dish, too. :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy Holidays!

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  10. Mmmm pears with salad sounds heavenly. But I'll have to pass on the blue. Never could handle all that flavor!

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    1. Hi Laura, blue cheese definitely isn't for everyone! Goat cheese would be kinda nice, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  11. What a great salad John, endives are such an usual vegetable. I took a tour of an end growing facility in Sacramento several years ago. It was very interesting .

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    1. Hi Gerlinde, they ARE interesting, aren't they? And we love their flavor! Thanks for the comment.

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  12. It is light and perfect for those on a low carb diet. It makes a great side for the holidays too!

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    1. Hi Denise, plus really, really good flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  13. This is totally delightful and a very refreshing summer salad. Belgium endive can be hard to source but are so precious when available.

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    1. Hi Merryn, we're lucky in that we can usually (although not always) find Belgian endive in our market. Good thing, 'cause it is SO good! Thanks for the comment.

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  14. I love endive and this sounds delicious!

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    1. Hi Anne, it's wonderful. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  15. Pear and blue cheese are a stellar combo -- simple delicious ingredients is all you need! John, this salad looks fab. :)

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    1. Hi Judy, it really is a neat combo, isn't it? Heck, this whole salad makes a neat combo! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. this looks great KR - what a shame hubby doesn't eat blue cheese. he says it tastes like ants! silly man. have a fab festive season. cheers! S

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    1. Hi Sherry, too bad -- more for all of us. :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy Holidays!

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  17. Pears and blue cheese are a perfect combination. What a lovely winter salad! Happy Holidays!

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    1. Hi Amy, love the pear/blue cheese combo -- it just works. And walnuts really work with both of them, too. Thanks for the comment, and Happy Holidays!

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  18. This is right up my alley, John. Has everything I look for in a winter salad, in particular that yummy blue cheese. :-)

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    1. Hi Frank, we can never resist blue cheese. Never! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  19. Pears and blue cheese are like a match made in heaven. This is a fantastic winter salad. We could eat this every day.

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    1. Hi Bobbi, we could eat this every day, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  20. I use to love blue cheese but as I’ve gotten older I’m not that big a fan. However I do seem to love it with this salad. They serve something similar to this at Frazier’s if you’ve ever been there in Soulard. I always get it. Happy Holidays to you and the Mrs.

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    1. Hi Vicki, haven't been to Frazier's -- I need to! :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy Holidays!

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  21. Ooh, what a delicious combination of flavors and textures! It's the perfect salad for our holiday table! Merry Christmas to you and Mrs. KR!!!

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    1. Hi Liz, isn't this terrific? Simple and loads of taste. We like! :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy Holidays!

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  22. Terrific salad, I could eat this all day. Sometimes all I crave is a good salad! Glad to see you're taking off the rest of the year to enjoy the holiday season. Have a great holiday

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    1. Hi Pat and Dahn, we could make this our whole dinner, too. Well, maybe a bit larger portion. :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy Holidays!

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  23. Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchenDecember 20, 2019 at 8:07 AM

    I absolutely love pears and blue cheese together. This is the PERFECT starter for Christmas dinner!

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    1. Hi Kelsie, it's a dynamite combo of flavors -- just such a classic pairing. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  24. What a lovely salad and so simple! Bobby is smoking a turkey tomorrow and this would go great with it. Thanks! I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season! See you in 2020!

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    1. Hi MJ, this would be a great starter for a smoked turkey dinner! Thanks for the comment, and Happy Holidays!

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  25. What a perfect winter starter. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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    1. Hi Emma, it's a really, really tasty salad. :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy Holidays!

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  26. I always love reading your notes. I think toasting the walnuts and adding parsley would be divine! Happy Holidays!

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    1. Hi Debra, toasted walnuts are so good, aren't they? They'd add a nice dimension to this dish. And parsley not only tastes great, it also looks great. :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy Holidays!

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  27. Fantastic salad, John. This is the kind of recipe I need to get me out of my usual rut. (Butter lettuce and avocado with oil and vinegar.) perfect for the holidays!

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    1. Hi David, butter lettuce is good stuff -- it's our usual lettuce. :-) But this is such a nice change! Thanks for the comment.

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  28. I see lots of crunchy deliciousness and flavor in this salad John! Looks fabulous!

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    1. Hi Balvinder, the texture of this is terrific! Flavor too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  29. A salad fan here and loving everything about this one though can't say the same about blue cheese :P

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    1. Hi Taruna, you can easily substitute another cheese -- something with a bit of tang, like goat cheese. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  30. I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves salads made with bitter greens. I can't get enough of radicchio and endive in winter salads. ;)

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    1. Hi Carolyn, bitter greens are great! Love their bite. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  31. Nice salad, good to serve this season
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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    1. Hi Raymund, neat salad, huh? :-) Thanks for the comment, and Merry Christmas!

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  32. This looks like the perfect salad. I love the combination of all of the ingredients. Merry Christmas John and to your family!!

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    1. Hi Dawn, it's a great combo of flavors. :-) Thanks for the comment, and Merry Christmas!

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  33. I agree-pears and Roquefort cheese do go well together! Instead of eating this salad with a knife and fork, I'd like to pick up each individual endive leaf with the goodies on it and eat it like an 'endive cup.' Look forward to hearing from you again in January!

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    1. Hi Fran, we sometimes don't cut the endive and use the "cup" method, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  34. Pears and blue cheese are a match made in heaven. And the salad looks divine. Wishing you the very best for the coming year - can't wait to see what you make.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Hi Amalia, Happy New Year! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  35. Happy New Year, John! I love all the flavors and textures in this anything but boring salad. They play together so nicely.

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    1. Hi Laura, Happy New Year! And thanks for the comment. :-)

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  36. This looks lovely, John! I love endive and it makes wonderful salads, you chose a great partner with the blue cheese. Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year to you and Ms. Riffs! ��

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    1. Hi Pat, isn't this nice? Wonderful flavor! We're having it again this weekend. :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy New Year!

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  37. What a great combination of flavors! And, it's perfect for winter. Hope you had a lovely holiday season!

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    1. Hi Lisa, isn't this nice? SO good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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