Ruccola, Endive, and Radicchio Salad with Pine Nuts and Aged Goat Cheese

Endive and radicchio are bitter leaf vegetables that pair well with the rich peppery flavor and leathery texture of ruccola. This is a very sturdy salad that can hold up to the aged goat cheese and the thick dressing, so feel free to dress it heavily. We like to use a goat cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre called the Mad River Roll (see Resources), but any quality goat cheese will do. If you can’t find ruccola, you can use arugula—but if you can, try to hold out for the real deal. Ruccola is a peppery, sturdy green with a nice bite to it.

Ingredients

FOR THE BALSAMIC DRESSING:

  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cup rice bran oil or canola oil

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 small head radicchio
  • 2 heads Belgian endive
  • 2 handfuls ruccola
  • 1 tablespoon minced
  • flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives
  • 2 whole scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 ounces aged goat cheese, cut into four 1-inch-thick rounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Serves 4

How to make it ?

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350oF.

Scatter the pine nuts, for both the dressing and the salad, on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Cool completely (leave the oven on). Set aside 2 tablespoons of the toasted pine nuts for the salad and reserve the rest for the dressing.

To make the balsamic dressing, put the pine nuts, vinegar, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a blender and purée until smooth. With the blender running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until the dressing is thick and emulsified. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Set the dressing aside.

ruccola, endive and radicchio

ruccola, endive and radicchio

To make the salad, pull the leaves off the head of radicchio and discard the core. Cut the leaves into long, thin strips and place them in a large mixing bowl. Carefully pull the leaves off the endive heads and discard the cores. Cut the leaves into long, thin strips and add them to the radicchio. Add the ruccola, parsley, chives, scallions, and shallots, and toss together gently. Keep refrigerated.

Arrange the 4 slices of goat cheese on a baking sheet and place it in the oven. Warm the goat cheese but don’t let it melt—check on it after 2 minutes. While the goat cheese is in the oven, generously dress the salad with the balsamic dressing, sprinkle with the reserved 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the salad to a platter, arrange the warmed goat cheese on top, and serve immediately.

All three of the following vegetables come into season at around the same time, marking the beginning of spring. We serve these preparations as accompaniments to many of our dishes throughout the season. Their methods of preparation are interchangeable.