After Thanksgiving, I pretty much crave simple foods and simple cooking. I go from one extreme to the other. Luckily, I don’t host any holiday parties after Thanksgiving nor do I host or plan Christmas dinner, instead we are at my parents’ house for the holiday and I am merely a sous chef. I am going to encourage my mother to change up the menu this year though.
We always start with tortellini in chicken broth, which is a very traditional Italian first course on Christmas so I know that will stay. And she likes to make a beef tenderloin, which is fine because it’s very easy and everyone enjoys it (LOL except me, but that’s ok!) Then we have stuffed mushrooms, a
boring basic green salad and whatever vegetable side dish I prepare. I’m feeling like this salad is going to shake things up this year!
This salad is one of my default recipes in the fall and winter on a Sunday with roasted chicken or when I have friends over for dinner. Everyone loves it (leave off the parm if you’re dairy-free or vegan), it’s super simple to prepare, and much can be prepped in advance. Plus, this salad supports my motto, which is: the more plants on the plate, the better!
This salad looks elegant, but it’s not complicated. I love butter lettuce and its tender texture. It is perfect paired with crunchy, and slightly bitter endive. Endive (pronounced ehn-dive in the US, but on-deeve in France), is related to radicchio and chicory and is loaded with nutrients from vitamin A to B-carotenes, the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase, manganese, copper, and folate. Because endive has a little bite, I like to combine it with other lettuces.
The rest of the salad is just delightful – juicy pears, crunchy walnuts and salty, nutty Parmesan, all tossed with a simple vinaigrette. I would have the lettuces washed in advance, toast and chop the nuts, shave the cheese and make the dressing ahead as well. Then all you have to do is slice the pears and assemble. I think this salad would go with just about anything, from poultry to roast meat to halibut or shellfish. And yes, mom, tenderloin!
- 1 small shallot, minced (about 1 Tablespoon)
- 2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 6 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil (or 3 Tablespoons walnut oil and 3 Tablespoons olive oil)
- 3 heads Belgian endive, trimmed and sliced crosswise, about ¼-inch slices
- 2 pears (such as Bartlett), ripe but firm, cored, cut into 16 crosswise slices or chopped
- ½ cup toasted walnut halves, chopped coarsely (or just leave them raw)
- 1 head butter lettuce, leaves left whole
- Shaved Parmesan to taste*
- In a small bowl, whisk together shallot, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in oil.
- Place the endive, pears and walnuts in a large bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat lightly. Arrange a few whole leaves of butter lettuce on each of 6 plates. Mound the endive salad on the lettuce leaves and top with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.