winter salads

Jan 252017

Grilled Endive, Blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Salad



Growing up on both sides of the Atlantic, I have always vacillated between whether to use American spellings (ie. flavor) or British spellings (ie. flavour). I am certainly guilty of mixing it up here on my blog.


I have spent more time than I need to trying to decide which type of spelling to follow. And my final decision is that I can’t decide. My formative education was in the US (and American spellings are just so simple for everyone to follow) but I went to University and worked in the UK (and British spellings are just so elegant). Either way, I feel like I am betraying one side of the pond.


It gets even more complicated when it comes to names of food. An ‘aubergine’ in the UK is an ‘eggplant’ in the US. A ‘courgette’ in the UK is a ‘zucchini’ in the US. And don’t even get me started on ‘rocket’ versus ‘rucola’ versus ‘arugula’.


I am having the same issue with the ‘endives’ in this recipe, which can also be called ‘escarole’ or ‘chicory’. In the case of endives, it is not just the name but the variety which is also causing some confusion. Endives can be loose frizzy heads of lettuce but they can also be submarine-shaped tightly packed firm leaves. For this recipe, make sure that the endives (or escarole or chicory) that you get are the tightly-packed submarine-shaped ones. Choose red or white according to what you have available.


Endives are slightly bitter, but bitter foods are supposed to be good for you because when your tastebuds sense bitterness, they send signals to your body to start producing more digestive juices. The increase in digestive juices means that your body is able to absorb more nutrients from your food. So, a bitter salad is a great way to start a meal.


You can eat endives raw, but I find that if you grill them it enhances their flavour (or should it be flavor?).




(Serves 4 as a starter or side dish)


Dressing Ingredients:

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp honey (optional – it is not necessary but it will help balance some of the bitterness in the endives)


Salad Ingredients:

4 heads of endive (room temperature)

A little extra virgin olive oil to brush onto the endives before grilling

150-200g / 5-7 oz blue cheese, crumbled

1 pear (about 200g / 7 oz in weight)

80g / 2 oz walnut halves, roughly broken or chopped



  1. Remove the outer leaves from the endives and slightly trim the base, making sure to leaves enough of the base attached so that the endive leaves remain attached. Cut the endives in half lengthwise. Brush the cut sides with some olive oil.
  2. To grill the endives, warm up a griddle pan or Panini press on medium heat. When the griddle is hot, place the endives cut-side down on the griddle and leave for 5-7 minutes. If you do not have a griddle pan or Panini press, you can also grill your endives in an oven-proof dish in a 200°C oven for 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare your dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a jar and shaking well. Set aside.
  4. When ready to serve, arrange the endive halves on a platter. Scatter them with the walnuts and crumble some blue cheese on top.
  5. Make sure you slice the pear just prior to serving to avoid discolouration.
  6. Cut the pear into quarters lengthwise, remove the seeds and then slice each quarter horizontally (widthwise) to get small triangle slices of pear. Scatter the pear on top of the salad.
  7. Drizzle the salad dressing on top (you may not need to use all of it).
  8. This salad can be served either warm or cold.


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Apr 272013

Avocado Pear Chestnut Salad



My recipe for Avocado, Pear and Chestnut Salad simply comes from combining some of my favorite winter flavors. Conference pears and chestnuts have a similar nutty sweetness which makes them good salad partners. To save on preparation time, look around for vacuum-packed ready-to-use (cooked and peeled) chestnuts.


Although avocado is not usually thought of as a winter fruit, Australia’s warm winters produce really delicious Hass avocados. Here, I serve the avocado in a neat quarter wedge on the side rather than cubed and tossed in with the rest of the ingredients. Served like this, the avocado’s lovely subtle creamy flavor does not get lost amongst the other flavors of the salad.



Avocado, Pear and Chestnut Winter Salad

(Serves 4 as a side salad)



Dressing Ingredients:

1 garlic clove, minced (use the fine side of a cheese-grater or microplane)

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tbsp dijon mustard

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 & 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (can be replaced with any vinegar)

Generous pinch of sea salt

Freshly ground pepper (to taste)



Salad Ingredients:

1 Hass avocado, cut lengthwise into quarters

12-16 chestnuts, cut in half (if you can find pre-cooked/peeled chestnuts it will save you a lot of time and effort)

1 crisp conference pear, thinly sliced lengthwise

Mixed salad leaves




  1. Prepare the salad dressing by shaking all the dressing ingredients together in a clean jar with a lid. Allow to rest at room temperature for upto an hour, or refrigerate for longer (it lasts nicely for upto 4 days). If refrigerating, remember to bring the dressing to room temperature before serving.
  2. For the salad, cut your pear, chestnuts and avocado into their respective sizes and put to the side.
  3. Place salad leaves on four individual salad plates.
  4. Put 3-4 few pear slices on top of the leaves.
  5. Place an avocado wedge on the side of the salad.
  6. Scatter the chestnut halves over the salad.
  7. Shake the dressing again and then drizzle it on top of the salad.
  8. Serve immediately.
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