This endive salad with Roquefort savvily juxtaposes sweet with bitter, crunchy with creamy, and pungent with comforting as heck. Certain to impress.
This endive salad with roquefort is simple, satiating, and sophisticated thanks to its balance of tastes and textures. Certain to impress even fussy dinner guests.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Endive Salad with Roquefort
For the candied walnuts
- Scant 1/2 cup walnut halves snapped in half
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pinch cayenne
- 1 1/2 teaspoons walnut oil
For the endive salad
- 3 Belgian endives (red or yellow)
- 1 2/3 cups green or red grapes halved (or substitute chopped apples)
- 20 radishes thinly sliced (from about 3 bunches)
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon Roquefort cut into cubes the size of a postage stamp
- 4 handfuls watercress from 1 bunch watercress (or substitute mixed salad greens)
For the vinaigrette
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons chives snipped
- Fresh lemon juice
- Runny honey (optional)
Make the candied walnuts
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Caramelize the walnuts by putting them in a frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat with the sugar, salt, cayenne, and walnut oil. Cook until the sugar is caramelized and turns an amberish, dark brownish color, stirring occasionally to make sure all the nuts are coated, about 3 minutes. Do not turn your back on the nuts as they are caramelizing. Immediately transfer the caramelized walnuts to the baking sheet, spread in a single layer, and let cool.
Make the endive salad
- Discard the outer leaves of the endives. Slice each endive crosswise into rings or, for a more dramatic presentation, trim the stem ends, peel the leaves away from one another, and use them whole.
- In a large salad bowl, gently toss all the salad ingredients.
Make the vinaigrette
- Whisk the oil, vinegar, and mustard together really well until emulsified. Season and add the chives and a good squeeze of lemon juice to taste and a drop of honey, if desired.
- Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and gently toss so that everything is well coated. Serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is a very satisfying salad that can be served as a starter or lunch entrée. The components complement each other perfectly to create a nice combination of sweet, salty, crunchy, and creamy. I only wanted to serve half the recipe as a lunch for 2, so I combined and dressed half the ingredients and kept the rest in the refrigerator for the following day. My salad didn’t look exactly like the photo because I used all yellow Belgian endive. Also, I used mixed salad greens instead of watercress. The walnuts can be made and eaten as a snack whether or not you’re making the complete salad. You can use more than a pinch of cayenne if you like things spicier. You’ll know when the nuts are done because the sugar turns dark, and you’ll smell it and see a little smoke. You need to quickly remove the nuts to a parchment-lined baking sheet or a Silpat to stop the cooking and let them cool. The amount of vinaigrette was correct in proportion to the salad ingredients.
The best way I can think of to sum up this dish is “A Vineyard Tour in a Salad.” Between the bitterness of the endive, sweetness of the candied walnuts, freshness of the grapes, and richness of the cheese, this is so wonderfully balanced and makes for a fantastic appetizer or even light lunch alongside a nice citrusy Sauvignon Blanc. The dressing was just right as a vinaigrette—flavorful enough to add a little kick but not so overbearing that it masked any of the main event. I used mixed greens instead of watercress. The amount of vinaigrette was just right for 4 decently sized (but not meal-sized) salads.
I adore this elegant recipe because, to me, it has all the elements of a perfect salad. It starts with a mixture of greens that add a nice variety of taste and texture: peppery, tender watercress and sliced rounds of crisp endive. Next you have a bit of crunch from the candied walnuts. (I loved the slight heat that the cayenne gave the toasted nuts, and the amount of brown sugar was perfect; they became a bit caramelized in the pan which was a delight.) Next comes a bit of sweetness from the red grapes, which were a lovely pairing with the creamy Roquefort cheese. And more crunch from sliced radishes, yum! This is a lovely base recipe for a mustardy-honey vinaigrette which really brings the whole salad together. So a lot of flavor here, plus nutrition, and it was very pretty! (And yippee for me, all of these elements happen to be some of my favorite ingredients and flavors as well!) I did use the honey, as I thought the sweetness would go well with the blue cheese. In terms of caramelizing the walnuts, it only took about 3 minutes over medium-high heat, but I watched them very carefully so that the sugar didn’t burn and stirred very often. The cue that they were done was the smell of toasted nuts and their medium-brown color. I poured them onto a piece of parchment to cool and harden. I served this elegant salad as a main course salad with a side of seared scallops.
Originally published April 10, 2016