Despite the rise of foodie culture across the nation, most people's day to day cravings still tend to orbit around salty, sweet, and umami. It makes sense considering our geographic location and how mac & cheese continues to just be so good. Bitter stuff's less often on the list of "cravings". But, when Connie made this Endive, Breadcrumb, and Walnut Salad inspired by the one at Estela, it was sort of hard to understand why we don't crave "bitter" more.
The endive has a mildly bitter flavor, as do walnuts. But, when dressed with buttery breadcrumbs and super salty anchovies, they round out to create a salad that keeps you going back for more. The bitterness is a surprising delight that cuts through the butter, not totally unlike how acid works in a dish. Plus, the way the little endive boats cradle the warm, toasty mixture— it's a structural masterpiece.
The best part is that at the bottom of the bowl, once you've scooped your last endive, you've got this gorgeous pseudo-slurry from heaven that is totally acceptable to eat straight, no lettuce chaser, with a fork. At least we think so.
[adapted from Estela]
- About 2 cups torn fresh bread
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and roughly chopped or grated with a microplane
- 4-6 anchovy fillets (honestly, we like something closer to 8, but you be the judge of how "fishy" you want it)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 4-5 Belgian endives
- Butter to your comfort level—about a half a stick
- Salt & pepper
For the Dressing:
1. Start with the bread crumbs. Tear pieces off a loaf of French bread into half dollar sized chunks and set aside. About two cups. Don't stress too much about quantities here, though.
2. Warm the butter and a few tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan. Once it's good and hot, add the bread, making sure to coat every bit completely with butter and oil.
3. Add the garlic, anchovies, and walnuts into the pan and, again, make sure everything is buttered and oiled.
4. Crank up the heat, letting everything get deep golden brown, but being careful not to burn.
5. Sprinkle salt over the whole pan. We love Maldon.
6. Remove from heat and let this mixture cool for a moment before transferring the contents of the pan to a food processor. Give it a few whirls until the bread crumbs are about pea size.
7. Prepare endives by cutting an inch off the bottom of each one. Peel off leaf by leaf, arranging with concave side up in a big bowl, like this.
8. Make a quick vinaigrette with the olive oil, orange and lemon juice, vinegar, citrus zest, salt and pepper. We empower you to find the ratio of salt, oil and acid that works for you and repeat on all vinaigrettes henceforth!
9. Toss the breadcrumb mixture and the vinaigrette through the salad.
Enjoy! We like to use our hands and treat the endive like little, boat-like vessels for the breadcrumb mixture.