From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is a terrific salad to serve with pork or ham. I found the recipe in Fine Cooking magazine this past summer and I thought it would be a perfect addition to our Thanksgiving meal. It was. The few changes I've made to the recipe are simplifications rather than outright changes, and, if you share my penchant for salads, I think you'll want to give this one a try. The salad plays bitter against sweet and begins with a layer of apples that are lightly dressed with a mustard vinaigrette. The apples must be one of the sweeter varieties because no sugar is used in the salad or its dressing, and a touch of sweet is needed to balance the bitterness of escarole and the bite of blue cheese. I'm able to purchase hazelnuts that are already chopped and toasted and that allows me to completely bypass the second step of the recipe below. While many of you are unable to purchase hazelnuts, I've found that chopped and toasted almonds can be used as a substitute. I've also discovered that feta can replace blue cheese when it is necessary. The dressing for the salad can be made hours before you plan to use it, but the salad should not be tossed until you are ready to serve it. As with all leafy green salads, it's best to put the dressing in the salad bowl before the various elements of the salad are added. This prevents the salad from being weighed down by the dressing and makes for a prettier presentation. I don't like sopping salads, so I only use half the dressing suggested by this recipe. This is an easy salad to make and I hope you'll give it a try. Here's how it is made.
Apple and Escarole Salad with Blue Cheese and Hazelnuts...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Fine Cooking magazine
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 ounces whole shelled hazelnuts (about 1/2 cup), toasted and skinned
1 pound (about 2 large) sweet apples best enjoyed raw (such as Fujis or Galas), quartered, cored, and sliced into thin wedges
1 large head escarole, torn or cut into bite-size pieces (about 6 cups)
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced length-wise (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1) Whisk vinegar, shallots, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Whisk in oil in a slow and steady stream until incorporated.
2) Place nuts in a zip-top bag, force out air, seal bag, and break nuts with a meat pounder or a heavy skillet into uneven pieces.
3) Toss apples with 1 tablespoon of dressing in a large bowl. Add escarole, cheese, onion, parsley, and hazelnuts. Toss with some of remaining dressing and serve. Yield: 6 servings.
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