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Everyday Italian: Endive and Frisée Salad with Blood Oranges and Hazelnuts

A salad that's heavy on the bitter greens. Giada De Laurentiis dares readers to be more adventurous, saying, "Italians aren't afraid of using spicy and slightly bitter greens in their salads, and you shouldn't be either." But for my American palate, the combination of endive and frisée was too unrelentingly bitter. After I substituted some mild green butter lettuce, I liked this flavor combination a lot better.

If you've got a taste for the bitterness of frisée, by all means make the salad as originally written. But if you're like me, and prefer bitterness to be just an accent, try the substitution I've suggested.

Blood oranges look lovely in the salad, but if they're not available, regular oranges would work just as well. You could also try satsuma mandarins, or clementines, for a variation.

The dressing, nuts, orange segments, and greens can all be prepared in advance. Toss the salad together with the dressing just before serving.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 to 7 minutes for the hazelnuts
Yield: 6 side-dish servings

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp finely chopped shallots
1 Tbsp honey
1/3 cup olive oil or hazelnut oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 heads Belgian endive, trimmed and cut crosswise into thin slices
2 heads frisée lettuce, center leaves only, torn into pieces, OR 1 large head butter, Boston, Bibb, or other mild green lettuce, torn into pieces
2 blood oranges, segmented
1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and chopped (see note, below)

In a medium bowl, whisk the balsamic vinegar, shallots, and honey. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the endive and frisée or other lettuce in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mound the greens on plates and surround with orange segments. Sprinkle with hazelnuts. Drizzle any remaining vinaigrette around the salads and serve immediately.


To toast hazelnuts: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the nuts on a large heavy baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring once or twice, until they are fragrant and light golden brown in the middle, about 7 minutes. Let cool completely, then rub them between your palms to remove the brown skins (don't worry if you can't get the skins off completely. Remove as much as you can.) Chop the hazelnuts roughly. If made ahead, store at room temperature until ready to serve.

 

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©2005 Colleen Flippo. All rights reserved. Contact the author.