Last week I shared the most amazing fried chicken with savory cornmeal waffles, the week before that was ginger miso skirt steak, so now we’re reining it all back in with this delicious and healthy endive salad. After spending months thinking about this salad from the September issue of Bon Appetit and then this little salad from Deb Perelman, I knew it was time to make my own version. The endive salads were calling to me!
I started by taking my favorite parts of both salads – the blue cheese from the BA recipe and the irregularly shaped hand torn croutons from Smitten Kitchen. I made the croutons by pulling the insides from a thick slice of bread, making sure they were all about the size of half a walnut (er, a half of the walnut halves? A quarter nut? You know what I’m saying.) Tearing instead of cutting the croutons gives them a lighter texture so that they almost shatter when you bite into them.
I came up with the vinaigrette simply because fig and sherry vinegar are ingredients I always want to use more of and they just sounded good together. And surprise, they were! The vinaigrette is a little sweet and a little tart, with complexity from the vinegar and shallots. If you don’t have a bottle of sherry vinegar, you should probably go get one. Not just for this recipe! Sherry vinegar is my go-to splash of acid when I’m sauteing vegetables, it’s really good on roasted chicken and onions, and the tiniest splash at the end of cooking somehow brightens up and transforms french onion soup into the best ever.
My favorite part of this salad? Ok, besides the cheese… My favorite part is the texture. The endive is incredibly crisp and refreshing, the croutons and walnuts provide two volumes of crunch, the cheese, nestled between the leaves, is creamy and salty, coating the tongue, and the blood orange is juicy and bright. Most days spinach, arugula, and mixed greens will do, but for a truly interesting and textural winter salad I’ll stick with endive.
- 1 lb endive
- 1 blood orange
- ⅓ c. raw walnut halves
- ½ c. hand torn breadcrumbs
- 2 oz. blue cheese
- Olive oil
- 1¼ t. fig preserves
- 1 T sherry vinegar
- 2 T olive oil
- 1¼ t. finely minced shallots
- ½ t. dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Start by whisking together all the ingredients for the vinaigrette and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread walnuts and breadcrumbs on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss to coat. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant and breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove and allow to cool while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
- Remove any bruised outer leaves from the endive and discard. Chop into about 1” sections and separate the leaves into a salad bowl.
- Slice the stem and bottom ends from the blood orange, then slice the peel and pith off in sections from top to bottom, following the curvature of the fruit. Holding the skinned orange in your hand, use a paring knife to carefully cut in between the segment walls to remove the segments and add to the salad. If you want, squeeze the juice from the remaining membrane into a small cup - this is the chef’s treat!
- Dice or crumble blue cheese. Roughly chop walnuts. Add cheese, walnuts, and breadcrumbs to the salad. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss.