Frisee and Belgian endive are both from the chicory family. Sometimes mistaken for escarole that has broad leaves, frisee is really curly endive with frilly slightly peppery leaves. This member of the chicory family — which also includes radicchio, Treviso and Belgian endive — has white roots and green, spiky leaves. Ask your greengrocer to point it out if you’re not sure of what it looks like.
Belgian endive (pronounced “on-DEEV”), with its tight stalk, is pretty easy to find at the market. This cool-weather salad combines the best of winter’s produce. I like the crisp, sweet, slightly creamy pear flavor contrasting with the Belgian endive and frisee along with the toasted pecans. Any Italian blue cheese will be delicious, but I am partial to Gorgonzola Dolce Latte, a rich and creamy yet delicate blue cheese. If you can’t find it, just substitute with other crumbled blue cheese. This is really a nice beginning to any lunch or dinner. It is equally delicious as the ending to a meal with its fruity sweet flavor notes. This recipe also can be doubled.
Serves 4 to 6.
3 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 Teaspoons honey Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 Cup olive oil
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Cup pecans
1 Medium head baby curly endive or frisee, rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
6 Belgian endive, ends removed and thinly sliced into vertical strips
1 Medium bosc or comice pear, peeled, cored
1/2 Cup crumbled Italian blue cheese like Gorgonzola Dolce Latte
1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the vinegar, mustard and lemon juice, and whisk to combine. Add the oil and whisk it in slowly until it is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Reserve.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and aromatic. Reserve.
3. In a salad bowl combine the lettuce and endive with the pears and the toasted pecans. Arrange the blue cheese over the salad.
4. To serve, drizzle the vinaigrette over all and toss to mix well.
Advance Preparation: May be prepared up to 4 hours ahead through step 3, covered and refrigerated. The dressing can stay at room temperature.
Belgian Endive Tips
• Choose crisp, firmly packed heads that are white or pale yellow in color. Red endive should be bright colored with no wrinkled leaves. If the endive is very green, it might be more bitter than the lighter colored endive stalks.
• Store endive in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. I like to wrap the stalks in paper towels in a lock-top plastic bag.
• Wipe the outer leaves with a damp paper towel. Remove any torn or damaged leaves, trim the bottom, and use them as the recipe suggests.
Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Holidays,” and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.