This is a very old French recipe. Joan of Arc might have been served this as her last meal. There are a million ways to customize this. You can roast the endive or use chicory. You can sub in oranges for the pears. This calls for Roquefort but any blue cheese will do. The vinaigrette alone…anyway, see if this sounds any good and let your imagination run free.
As much endive as you’ll need. You want to get at least 1 or better yet 2 heads of endive per person, top cut off, sliced in half, core removed.
1 ripe Bartlett pear per person, cored, and sliced. Not bite-size, maybe divide each pear into thirds lengthwise. (see note on alternate presentation at the end)
2 oz. Roquefort cheese per person, minimum. I like it so I use more.
1/4 cup toasted walnut halves, max, per person, unless they have the dietary habits of a squirrel
For the vinaigrette:
Use a bottle of a light, white one from the fridge, or let’s do it the Ina Garten way:
5 tbsp. champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard (I use 2)
1 room-temp extra-large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (I use 1; I let the extra mustard do the work)
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
3/4 cup “good” olive oil
(This will make enough for approx. 4—6 servings)
I make the vinaigrette first. In a medium bowl whisk together the first 4 ingredients. Then slowly whisk in the olive oil.
Arrange the endive around each plate. Put the pears in a bowl and pour in between 1/2 and 3/4 of your vinaigrette and toss. Arrange the pears on each plate. Distribute the Roquefort and sprinkle on the walnuts. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the whole thing.
You would think this would make a perfect warm weather salad but because of the endives’ and the pears’ growing season this is most traditionally seen in the Fall and winter.
Note on presentation: For wow factor, arrange endive in a sunburst pattern and drizzle with vinaigrette. Slice one larger pear in half lengthwise, per two persons, core, and lay each half in the middle of the sunburst core side up. Fill the hole where the core was with a small mound of Roquefort and top with a walnut or 3. Sprinkle the rest of the Roquefort and the walnuts on the endive starburst. Drizzle more vinaigrette. This is how it was served to me in a restaurant once and no, I’m not Babe Paley or Slim Keith and this wasn’t at La Côte Basque in 1965.