"No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize." - Julia Child

Friday, March 19, 2010

Warm Belgian endive salad with pine nuts

The weather is getting GORGEOUS outside, and it's all I can do not to spend the day frolicking in the sunshiney goodness rather than sitting at my desk working, or blogging. Spring means all sorts of delicious and delightful things are going to start growing and tickling the senses and the palette.

Spring, to me, means lovely growing things and lighter meals, and since I was recently on an endive kick, I decided to find a salad recipe using endive. I found one online that's made with a simple dijon vinaigrette that is positively scrumptious. I've modified it slightly and am including it below.

The thing that is so good about this salad is that heating the endive in the pan mellows out the flavor and makes it a lovely warm temperature without sacrificing the thick, toothy crunch of an uncooked endive. I decided to put the endive on a bed of spring mix greens, so I doubled the amount of the dressing I made. I'll give you the measurements for making one batch, which is tossed with the endive while you're cooking it, and then make a second batch using the same measurements to drizzle over the greens at the end. I made this recently for Jeremy and myself and it filled two big plates, so it served as our main course, but you can, of course, use this as a salad portion and dole it out to more people. Also, Jeremy and I added a few slices of torn-up thin-sliced serrano ham that we had leftover and it was scrumptious.

Warm Belgian Endive and Pine Nut Salad

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 heads Belgian endive (we only had 3 and it was plenty, since they were each a decent size)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
In a bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, and lemon juice (I just eyeballed the measurements for the entire dressing and it was fine). Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking the whole time, until the consistency is creamy. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Remove outer leaves of the endive, if necessary, and cut off the bottom stalk. Cut each endive crosswise into rings and rinse in a colander. Shake it around to separate the rings and allow to drain. Maybe give them a quick pat with a paper towel. As I mentioned in my last entry about endive, you don't really have to do much washing because they are grown underground and have never been in dirt.)

In a large dry skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts, stirring constantly to avoid burning, until golden brown. Add the endive and warm slightly, then add the first batch of dressing and toss everything around in the pan to coat. Lower the heat, if necessary, to prevent the endive from wilting. You want to make sure that they are just heated through and the slightest bit tender while still retaining a nice crunch. Remove from heat.

Make a second batch of the dressing. Add a generous pile of spring mix or other mild salad greens to each dish and toss each with some of the dressing. Add the endive and nuts. Top with bits of shredded ham, freshly grated parmesan, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Enjoy the tangy goodness of the dressing and the crunchiness of the endive. Be amazed that such a simple combination of ingredients could be so scrumptious, and revel in the freshness that means spring is coming.

Also, get creative in terms of nuts. Try using almonds, walnuts, or hazelnuts if pine nuts don't appeal to you or are out of your price range.

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