Endive-Walnut Salad

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I was putting leftovers in the fridge after a fun dinner with friends, and I couldn’t stop snacking. But that’s not news. What was different this time is that the dish I couldn’t stay out of was the salad.

What?

There was mocha-toffee crunch terrine, half of my rosy filet mignon, scoops of a creamy potato casserole, and chunks of tuscan bread available for nibbling while I scraped plates and rewrapped the butter. There was a little wine left that I could have paired with the rest of the cheese crackers, but I had eyes only for the salad. It was so good.

A favorite restaurant in Little Rock called Terry’s serves a chopped salad of endive and walnuts that I love. I was searching my cookbooks to address a craving to make it at home a few months ago when I came across a recipe for a blue cheese salad dressing in The Essential New York Times Cookbook that sounded right. I made the dressing, leaving the blue cheese on the side to accommodate my beloved spouse who dislikes it (along with most other flavorful cheeses, carrots, cold soups, apples, pears, squash, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, zucchini boats, soft-boiled eggs, fruitcake, take-out Chinese food, rosé wine, couscous, pumpkin pie, pickles, olives, breakfast for dinner, grapefruit, cantaloupe, lemon bars, anchovies, green peas, radishes, and eggplant). Lightly coating a mix of chopped endive, torn butter lettuce, and toasted walnuts with the dressing resulted in a dish that was delicious and (dare I say) maybe a tiny bit better than the lovely salad that I first enjoyed at Terry’s.

It was good enough to make me bypass an extra forkful of dessert, and that’s saying a lot.

Endive-Walnut Salad (dressing adapted from a recipe in The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser, © 2010 by The New York Times Company and Amanda Hesser. Do not get water on the cover of this excellent cookbook. I did, and some of the cover type dissolved.)

5 small heads of endive lettuce, roots trimmed, sliced crossways into 1/4-inch pieces, then rinsed and dried

1 small head of butter lettuce, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces, rinsed and dried

2 handfuls of walnut halves, toasted (I spread them on a pan in a single layer, then bake for about 8 minutes at 350°F. or until fragrant. Don’t let them scorch.) Cool, then chop into large pieces.

A small wedge of blue cheese, crumbled

Dressing

1 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon white vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl.

In a large, shallow bowl, toss together the endive slices, butter lettuce, and walnut pieces. Spoon on enough dressing to lightly coat the leaves, and toss some more. Sprinkle blue cheese over the top, or serve the cheese separately for diners to add at their discretion. Serves 4 (with some leftovers for the cook).

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