You’re going to l-o-v-e this salad. I really mean it. It’s worth every second of effort to make it. The pecans need to be seasoned and caramelized a little bit, you need to soak the dried cranberries in bourbon (or omit this step if you don’t want the alcohol – soak them in orange juice instead), and you need to chop up all the salad stuff. And, the apple needs to be sliced just before serving. And you have to make the vinegar and oil dressing (easy, however).
This recipe has been in my to-try file for many years. What’s funny about it is the real title – “Even Men Love This Salad.” I found it on the recipe bulletin board at Martha Stewart’s website 15 years or so ago. (I was unable to locate the recipe there now.) The contributor, Susan (no last name given) said that every time she served it men told their wives to get the recipe. She mentions that yes, indeed, there are lots of flavors floating around in this salad, but she says when you put it all together, it’s sublime. I absolutely agree.
I did make just a few minor changes to the recipe – Susan used black raisins – I used dried cranberries instead. She added frisée greens to her salad. I thought there was enough salad quantity without it (there was) so I omitted the frisée. There’s a LOT of celery in it. Don’t eliminate that – it’s an essential ingredient somehow. The pecans are just mildly warm from the cayenne, but they are wonderful in this salad, or for nibbling if you have leftovers. Susan didn’t soak the onion – I do, to remove some of the harshness, the sharpness of raw onion. I actually tossed everything together except the pecans, but her recipe indicated adding the cranberries, Feta and pecans on top when it’s served. If you eat radicchio and Belgian endive very often, you know that they have a slight bitterness to them. The caramelized pecans and the dried cranberries totally balance that. MAKE THIS SALAD! Okay?
Radicchio & Belgian Endive Salad with Spicy Pecans
Recipe: adapted from a recipe found on Martha Stewart’s bulletin board, about 1995
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons bourbon (or orange juice)
1 cup pecans — chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup red wine vinegar — better the quality the better the dressing
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper — to taste
2 heads radicchio
3 heads Belgian endive — leaves separated, chopped
1/2 medium red onion — thinly sliced
2 medium Granny Smith apple — peeled, sliced
2 cups celery — chopped
1/4 cup Feta cheese — crumbled
1 head frisée lettuce — (optional)
1. Soak cranberries in bourbon for 2+ hours. You can reuse the bourbon multiple times.
2. Place the sliced onions in cold water and set aside (removes some of the sharpness).
3. In a medium nonstick skillet combine the pecans, sugar, cayenne and cumin. Heat until the pecans are lightly toasted and brown sugar has caramelized. These nuts are not highly caramelized, so don’t expect a coating of sugar.
4. In a jar or small bowl combine the vinegar and mustard. Use a whisk to mix well, and then drizzle in the olive oil until it’s thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate dressing until ready to serve. (You will probably use all the dressing.)
5. Chop up the radicchio, Belgian endive, red onion (drained and blotted dry with paper towels), apple and celery and combine with the salad dressing (taste it to make sure you don’t use too much dressing). If using the frisée, add it also. Serve on salad plates and top with cranberries, pecans and Feta cheese.
Per Serving: 331 Calories; 31g Fat (83.1% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 4mg Cholesterol; 109mg Sodium.