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Endive, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Salad with Port Vinaigrette

Servings: 6

The velvety port and vanilla bean-poached pears become transcendent accompanied with the crisp, slightly bitter endive and astringent blue cheese. This recipe makes an elegant starter that can easily be composed as an hors d’oeuvre: filling the endive spears with the nuts, cheese, onions, and port vinaigrette, and topping it all with a slice of poached pear.


For the poached pears

  • 2 cups port wine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 to 4 firm but ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears, peeled, stems left on

For the port vinaigrette

  • 2 cups port wine
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup diced shallot (about 4 small)
  • 2 cups peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup walnut oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad

  • 1 medium head frisée, trimmed, and cut into bite-size pieces (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 1 small head radicchio, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch ribbons (about 3-2/3 cups)
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced crosswise (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (about 4 oz.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large heads endive (about 13 oz.), leaves separated
  • 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled, preferably Maytag (about 2/3 cup)

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 431
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 261
  • Fat (g): 29
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 13
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7
  • Cholesterol (mg): 14
  • Sodium (mg): 299
  • Carbohydrates (g): 34
  • Fiber (g): 8
  • Sugar (g): 18
  • Protein (g): 9


Make the poached pears

  • In a large saucepan, combine the port, 1 cup water, and the sugar. Split the vanilla bean, and scrape the seeds into the pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Add the pears (the poaching liquid should reach half way up the pears) and cook, turning occasionally so all sides are equally poached, until soft when tested with a sharp knife, about 45 minutes. Store pears in the poaching liquid in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Make the vinaigrette

  • In a small saucepan, bring the port to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the reduced port, the vinegar, mustard, honey, and shallots. Whisking constantly, stream in the oils until thickened and emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Store leftover vinaigrette in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before use.)

Make the salad

  • In a large bowl, toss the frisée, radicchio, onions, and walnuts with 1/4 cup of the Port Vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, arrange 5 endive leaves across the top of each plate (if you have extra endive, thinly slice it crosswise, and add to the salad, or use the leaves whole for plating additional servings).
  • Divide the salad among the leaves, nestling some into each. Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese, and a drizzle of the remaining 1/4 cup vinaigrette. Arrange fanned slices of pear on each, and serve.


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