Executive Chef, restauranteur and television cooking maestro Emeril Lagasse has redefined what it is be a modern chef and culinary entrepreneur. This recipe, from one of his three New Orleans' restaurants, may be fast and easy to make but in characteristic Chef Emeril fashion, it is intensely flavorful and intelligently well balanced. It is a robust yet light way to start any fall or winter meal.
- 1 endive bulb ( 4 ounces), thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 large bunch (6 ounces) watercress , baby spinach or other green lettuce
- 1¼ cups (6 ounces) radishes, thinly sliced
- 4 cups diced pears (about 3)
- 1 cup (6 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- 2 cups toasted walnuts
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
- ½ cup walnut oil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine the endive, watercress, radishes, pears, and Gorgonzola in a large bowl. Sprinkle the walnuts on top and cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Combine the honey, shallots, garlic, and mustard in a small bowl. Whisk to blend. Add the white wine and vinegars and whisk to incorporate. Gradually whisk in the walnut oil, followed by the olive oil. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.
When ready to serve, drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately.
Both the taste and texture of the darkest green, softer, smaller leafed vegetables are deeply effected by freshness, transportation and temperature. Look for no brown rust at the base of any heads, and roots attached to bunched items like spinach, if possible. In the case of packaged greens, avoid any excess moisture water at the bottom of the bag and limp dark leaves. Reach in the back to get the freshest lettuces, since groceries put them in reverse expiration order.
Walnut oil can be found at specialty stores and fine groceries. This recipe does not call for the roasted or toasted variety which is pricier and has a far stronger taste. Store in the refrigerator, but allow the measured portion to get to room temperature for proper emulsification. Tami Ganeles-Weiser, recipe editor