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  • Writer's pictureMarissa Bialecki

Endive, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Port Vinaigrette | Capital Chefs: Ris Lacoste of Ris (Pt. 2)

Updated: Dec 25, 2018

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time wandering through the produce aisles staring at vegetables and wondering what in the world you should make with them. You’re overwhelmed by the options and the daunting threat of those veggies passing their prime in the bottom of your refrigerator’s crisper. Stress no more. Chef Ris Lacoste of Ris shared with me a recipe for an endive, walnut and blue cheese salad with port vinaigrette. I know, it’s winter and the thought of salad seems foreign. But this dish is hearty and a great way to get creative and bring some bright flavors into your kitchen while we wait for warmer weather.


Note: You can opt to go with freshly sliced apples for the salad or you can up the ante and use poached pears for a slightly more elegant version.


Ris Lacoste’s Endive, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Port Vinaigrette Serves 6


Salad Ingredients: 3 heads endive 1 head frisée, separated from the stem, cleaned and spun dry 1 small head of radicchio, cut into 1/2 inch bands 6 oz port vinaigrette (see recipe) 1 medium red onion, julienned 1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped and dusted 9-12 oz Maytag Blue Cheese OR blue cheese of your choice, crumbled 3 Bosc pears, raw or poached (see recipe), or crisp apple of your choice


Port Vinaigrette Ingredients: Makes 3 cups 2 cups port 1 cup red wine vinegar 1 T Dijon mustard 2 oz honey 2 shallots, diced 2 cups peanut oil 4 oz walnut oil


Poached Pears Ingredients: 3 firm but ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears, peeled, stems left on 2 cups port 1 cup water 1 cup sugar 1 vanilla bean


Salad Instructions: 1. Toast the walnuts in the oven until lightly colored, about 10 minutes. This will activate the nut oils and help bring out their natural sweetness. When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop the nuts and then place in a colander or large holed strainer and shake until most of the bitter skins or “dust” is removed. Set aside until ready to use. The nuts can also be prepared ahead and kept well covered. 2. Arrange 4-5 spears of endive across the top of each plate. 3. Toss together the frisée, radicchio, onions, walnuts and some of the port vinaigrette. 4. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust to your liking with more vinaigrette, salt or pepper. Be careful not to overdress. 5. Place a fluffy cluster of the salad mix in the center of each plate at the base of the endive spears, letting a bit of onion and walnut fall on the spears. Drizzle a bit of dressing on each endive spear. Arrange fanned slices of pear wherever you like and sprinkle with a generous amount of crumbled blue cheese, making sure to let some fall on each of the endive spears.


Vinaigrette Instructions: 1. Reduce 2 cups port to 1/4 cup. 2. Combine reduced port, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and shallots in a non-reactive bowl. 3. Place a wet towel under the bowl to keep it in place, allowing you to have both hands free to whisk. Whisk ingredients together and then emulsify with a steady drizzle of peanut oil and then walnut oil. 4. Taste for balance before all of the oil is added. More or less oil may be needed depending on the acidity of the vinegar. 5. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust to your liking. The vinaigrette will last at least a month, covered in the refrigerator and is best used at room temperature.


Poached Pear Instructions: 1. Combine the port, water, sugar and scraped vanilla bean in a small, non-reactive sauce pan, just large enough to hold the pears. The poaching liquid should reach half way up the pears (adjust with more port/water/sugar if necessary). 2. Bring to a boil and then gently simmer, turning the pears occasionally so that all sides are coated. 3. Cook until the pears are soft, about 45 minutes. 4. Store pears in their poaching liquid to continue the coloration. They can be prepared 2-3 days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator. The poaching liquid can be saved and used again or reduced to make a syrup or sauce for other uses.

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