Walnut season a sign of fall flavors
The walnut harvest began at the end of August and ends in November, and many are surprised to learn that California walnuts account for 99 percent of the commercial U.S. supply and two-thirds of the world supply.
Most of our walnuts are commonly known as the English (or Persian) walnut, and it is nice to know that walnuts are good for us, according to numerous studies. Walnuts are the only nuts that contain a significant amount of omega 3 fatty acids. So enjoy them.
I like how the crisp, sweet apple flavor in this recipe contrasts with the slightly bitter Belgian endive and the toasty walnut pieces. Dried figs give the vinaigrette body and a fruity richness. The slightly sweet white balsamic vinegar complements the endive. If you don’t have white balsamic, use rice wine vinegar instead. This salad is an especially nice beginning to an elegant dinner. It works equally well when served as a delicious ending to your dinner.
■When measuring the walnuts, chop them first so you have an accurate amount.
■Choose crisp, firmly packed Belgian endive heads that are white or pale yellow in color. Red endive should be bright colored with no wrinkled leaves. If the endive is very green, it might be bitter.
■Store endive in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. I like to wrap the stalks in paper towels in a lock-top plastic bag.
■Wipe the outer leaves with a damp paper towel. Remove any torn or damaged leaves, trim the bottom, and use them as the recipe suggests.
■The salad may be made through Step 2, covered and refrigerated up to two hours ahead. Make sure to cover the salad tightly with plastic wrap so the apples won’t turn brown. The dressing can be made up to one day ahead.
Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 18 cookbooks and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host.
Belgian Endive Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Apples and Fig Vinaigrette
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
10 Belgian Endive, sliced vertically into strips
2 Fuji or Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dried figs, finely chopped
Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add walnuts and toss gently over the heat until they begin to brown lightly and become fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.
In a salad bowl, combine the endive and apple strips, and sprinkle the walnuts over the top.
Make the dressing: In a small bowl whisk together the mustard, vinegars and salt and pepper. Add the oil slowly until emulsified. Add the dried figs and mix to combine. Taste for seasoning.
To serve, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat well. Serve on salad plates. Serves 6.
Per serving: 348 calories; 29 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 75 percent calories from fat); 22 g carbohydrates; 15 g sugar; 0 mg cholesterol; 128 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 6 g fiber.