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Endive and Pear Salad with Oregon Blue Cheese and Hazelnuts

This endive-and-pear salad features blue cheese and lightly toasted hazelnuts is a flavorful dish full of interesting textures.

  • Servings: 10

Source: Martha Stewart Living, September 2002

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 cup light olive oil
  • 1/8 cup hazelnut oil
  • 6 large or 8 small heads Belgian endive
  • 4 ripe pears, such as Anjou, Bartlett, or Comice
  • 8 ounces blue cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and toast in the oven until skins begin to split, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven. While still warm, rub nuts vigorously with a clean kitchen towel to remove skins. Discard skins, and return nuts to baking sheet. Return to oven, and continue toasting until they are fragrant and golden, 1 minute more. Remove from oven, and let cool completely. Coarsely chop, and set aside.

  2. Make the vinaigrette: Place sherry and balsamic vinegars in a small bowl, and whisk to combine. Whisk in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in olive oil and then hazelnut oil in a steady stream until mixture is thick and emulsified.

  3. Discard large outer leaves of endive, and separate interior leaves. Place in a large salad bowl. Quarter the pears, discarding core and seeds. Using a sharp knife, cut each quarter into 1/8-inch-thick slices, and add them to the bowl.

  4. Drizzle endive and pears with half the vinaigrette, and gently toss to coat. Add toasted hazelnuts, half the cheese, and the remaining vinaigrette, and toss to combine. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; gently toss again. Crumble the remaining cheese on top, and serve. Alternatively, divide salad mixture among serving plates, and crumble blue cheese on top of each.

Cook's Notes

We used Oregon Caveman Blue Cheese in this salad, but any blue-veined cheese, such as Roquefort, Stilton, or Danablu, would be just as delicious. Toasting hazelnuts in the oven is the easiest way to loosen their bitter, papery skins; it also brings out their rich, sweet flavor. We find that the mild flavor of light olive oil works best in this salad.

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