A great salad is my favorite way to start off a meal. Years ago when organic was off the beaten path I was featured in the frontrunner magazine Organic Gardening in an article with chef Thomas Keller. It was an article on beets – called Beatnik Chefs! My recipe was for a watercress, roasted beet and orange salad.
I love the fluffy watercress that is available in markets these days as it has a lighter flavor than the standard peppery coarser version. The following recipe has no beets in it – but would be excellent with some roasted orbs added.
So start off your next meal with a fresh and bright salad of sweet, colorful oranges, vibrant watercress and slightly bitter Belgian endive tossed with a quick and easy creamy tarragon dressing and a scatter of toasted walnuts. Serve it up with chèvre cheese-spread baguette slices hot from the oven — the perfect creamy-crunchy foil to the salad.
Orange, Endive, Watercress and Walnut Salad with Chèvre Crostini
Makes 4 servings
2 large oranges
3/4 cup finely julienned red onion
1 large head Belgian endive
1 bunch watercress, leaves and tender sprigs picked from coarse stems
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped, then toasted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons regular or low-fat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
8 (¼-inch-thick) slices baguette
3 ounces chèvre-style soft goat cheese
Cut rind and all white pith from oranges, cut in half lengthwise, then slice into ¼-inch-thick half-moons. Rinse onion julienne in cold water, and drain thoroughly. Split endive in half lengthwise, remove core, and slice endive lengthwise into strips.
Place orange slices, onion, endive, watercress and walnuts together in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar and honey. Gradually whisk in oil, emulsifying dressing. Whisk in tarragon. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, spread baguette slices with chèvre, about 2 teaspoons per slice. Place on a baking sheet and toast in oven for about 6 to 8 minutes or until bread is crispy. Keep warm.
Add dressing to salad ingredients and toss to coat evenly. Add salt and pepper to taste, and toss again. Divide salad among 4 plates and serve with the Chèvre Crostini. ©2005, Kathy Casey