Califonia Bountiful
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Apple and endive salad with blue cheese and candied pecans

Apple and endive salad with blue cheese and candied pecans


4 large heads Belgian endive
2 apples (such as Sierra Beauty or Fuji)
1/2 head fennel
6 tbsp. crumbled blue cheese
2 tbsp. finely chopped herbs (such as parsley, chives and tarragon)
2 tbsp. finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup champagne vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup candied pecans, chopped (recipe follows)

Champagne vinaigrette
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
2 tbsp. finely minced shallots
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Candied pecans
2 cups pecan halves
2 cups sugar
Salt, to taste


For salad:
Cut each head of endive in half and remove core. Separate endive leaves and place in a large mixing bowl. Cut apples, discard cores and thinly slice apples. Combine sliced apples with endive. Using a mandoline, thinly shave 1/2 of a fennel bulb. Place shaved fennel in a bowl of ice water. After 5 minutes in the ice bath, drain fennel. Add fennel to apples and endive. Add half of the blue cheese. Add herbs and shallots. Gently pour half of the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning, adding more vinaigrette as desired.

For vinaigrette:
Place vinegar and shallots in a medium mixing bowl. Add mustard and whisk until incorporated. Combine olive oil and grapeseed oil. Gradually drizzle oil mixture into bowl with vinegar and mustard, whisking continuously (the mustard will pull the vinaigrette into an emulsion as you whisk). Continue until all of the oil has been incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 2 cups.

For pecans:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pecans in a medium pot, cover in water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Drain pecans and rinse under warm water. This blanching process will remove any tannic residue that would render the nuts bitter. Strain nuts and place in a mixing bowl. In a medium pot, combine 1 cup water with 2 cups sugar. Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove sugar syrup from heat. Lightly coat nuts with a small amount of syrup. Place nuts on a sheet pan fitted with a rack and place in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove nuts from oven and allow to cool. Place nuts back in the bowl and once again toss with a light coating of syrup. Place nuts back on the sheet pan with the rack and place in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes more, rotating the pan every few minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and lightly sprinkle nuts with salt. Nuts should appear glossy, without sugar crystals. Allow to cool completely. Store covered for 1 to 2 weeks. Makes 2 cups.

To serve:
Divide salad between 4 plates and sprinkle with candied pecans and remaining blue cheese.

Serves 4