Endive leaves with grapes, hazelnuts and roquefort - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Endive leaves with grapes, hazelnuts and roquefort

endive leaves with grapes, hazelnuts and roquefort | pamela salzman

What’s your feeling about hors d’oeuvres on Thanksgiving?  I know most people (like me) spend so much time cooking so much food for arguably the biggest meal of the year.  No one wants his or her guests to fill up before they’ve even had one bite of turkey.  I get that.  But I also like a little time to mingle and visit over a drink before sitting down.  I like to stretch this dinner out a bit.  It’s a little disheartening to cook for hours and hours, even days, only to have your guests inhale the food in 20 minutes.

prepping the endive | pamelasalzman.com

So I like to have a one hour cocktail hour before Thanksgiving dinner.  Nothing fancy, just some wine and sparkling water, possibly a fun mixed drink, but I do make a few nibbles.  I really don’t want to offer a mini meal here, just a bite to whet the appetite and prevent any alcohol from going straight to anyone’s head.  At the very least, a seasonal crudites platter with a dip or two is nice, as is a small cheeseboard.

chopped hazelnuts

For 20 years I have made this zucchini-gruyere tart.  Delicious, delicious, delicious, but I’m over it.  Don’t tell my husband, but I think it’s off this year’s menu in favor of what I think is the perfect light bite before Thanksgiving dinner.  Look at these endive leaves with just a lovely little flavor party of grape, hazelnut and roquefort (a blue cheese made from sheep’s milk.)  It’s like a perfect salad bite and these are beyond easy to make.  I love, love, love them!  Plus, you can substitute like crazy here — diced fig, pear or apple for the grape; almonds or pistachios for the hazelnuts; goat cheese, Pecorino or Manchego for the roquefort.

endive leaves with grapes, hazelnuts and roquefort | pamelasalzman.com

Wash your endive leaves the night before and keep them in a container or bag in the fridge.  Make your dressing several days in advance.  All that’s left to do here is ASSEMBLE.  We love that word when we’re talking Thanksgiving.

endive leaves with grapes, hazelnuts and roquefort | pamela salzman

I adore these hors d’oeuvres for any dinner party, not just Thanksgiving.  I hate to say it, but December is right around the corner and that means holiday parties.  Gasp!  First things first, though.  Let’s get those Thanksgiving menus figured out.  More tips and helpful hints coming this Thursday, which to remind, is 3 weeks from Thanksgiving!

endive leaves with grapes, hazelnuts and roquefort | pamelasalzman.com

Endive Leaves with Grapes, Hazelnuts and Roquefort
Serves: makes 24 pieces
  • 3 firm, fresh heads of Belgian endive
  • Dressing (optional)
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • ¾ -1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey or 100% pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons unpasteurized apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ¾ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ pound of crumbled blue cheese such as Roquefort
  • 12 grapes, halved or quartered, depending on size
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted and salted if desired or sliced almonds
  1. Cut ½ inch off the bottom (root end) of each head of endive.  Separate the leaves and keep under a damp paper towel in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to 4 hours.
  2. Make the dressing if using.  Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or a glass jar with a lid.  This will make too much dressing for the hors d’oeuvre.  Save what you don’t use for a salad.
  3. Fill the white part of each endive leaf with a bite size crumble of blue cheese, a half of a grape and a pinch of chopped nuts.  Drizzle with a touch of dressing if desired.


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  1. Have you tried to buy roquefort cheese recently? I’ve been to Whole Foods to buy it a couple of times and it was not available…I talked to the “cheese person” and they said the FDA has banned selling it because of a bacteria in it or something. They said it may never get approved again. They are not sure. This was about 5 or 6 weeks ago. Have you bought it recently? If not – which blue cheese do you recommend. I always LOVED roquefort…it was different.

    • I could swear I bought it about a month ago! Strange. Any blue cheese would be great here, including gorgonzola. If you can’t find blue cheese, even a little goat cheese is nice. Trader Joe’s has a goat cheese with honey that is amazing!

      • Yes, it’s true. The FDA has banned a number of cheese due to “harmful” bacteria. The French are rolling their eyes at us right now! But you know food coloring and other chemicals in our food is ok. These look great! I agree with you, Pamela. I think it’s nice to have a little time to visit before sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner.

        • Well, I just came back from Whole Foods and they have no idea what I’m talking about with banning Roquefort. My Whole Foods is selling Roquefort! But so many cheeses pair nicely with grapes that if you can’t get it, it’s not a big deal. 🙂

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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