Today marks the beginning of a six-month cooking adventure with Ruth Reichl. I ordered Ruth's The Gourmet Cookbook, which is the largest cookbook I own, at over 1000 pages and over 1000 recipes. The cookbook is so big it's funny. My 11-year-old son says, "Wow, mom. You're like the biggest food nerd ever." Every time he sees me with it he tells me, "If you read that whole book then I'm gonna expect you to know everything there is to know about food."
I've spent hours pouring through the book and I still haven't been able to look through it completely, which is saying something. It is simply enormous and full of great recipes and quite simply, I adore it. I highly recommend it to all avid home cooks.
I'm in a fit of laughter today because out of this ginormous cookbook full of recipes I've chosen to share Parmesan Walnut Salad in Endive Leaves first. How does that happen?
Let me explain. I started a list of all the Ruth recipes I wanted to make and as usual, it became quite long. I was thinking about starting my adventure with a pasta dish like Macaroni and Cheese or Four-Cheese Pasta, but then I started to think about how I was going to make a pasta dish next week. Then I thought about making a dip, but then I remembered I was making one the week after. So, in an effort to make something completely different and unlike my next few posts, I opted for this Parmesan Walnut Salad in Endive Leaves and I'm so glad I did!
The nuttiness of Parmesan is wonderfully paired alongside walnuts. Then the Parmesan and the walnuts are coated with a light touch of mayo, lemon juice, and olive oil, as well as finely diced celery and parsley. You've got a bit of everything as far as texture and flavor go. It's chewy and crunchy and bright and flavorful. The slight bitterness of the endive leaves makes it the perfect vehicle for the nutty sweetness of the Parmesan and walnuts.
This is really one amazing appetizer! More importantly, I think this is an appetizer than almost anyone would love. It's healthy, vegetarian, and light yet delicious. I think that goes a long way at parties these days. I can see the plate being wiped clean every time. Thanks to Ruth for an amazing recipe that will be a new go to!
Parmesan Walnut Salad in Endive Leaves
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
by Ruth Reichl
Makes about 25 Hors D'oeuvres
1 small garlic clove
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise*
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice*
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (6-ounce) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano, sliced 1/8" thick and cut into 1/8" dice
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 Belgian endives, trimmed and leaves separated
*Note: It's worth sourcing a very good Parmigiano for this recipe. Also, make sure your walnuts are fresh as they can go rancid if they languish in your pantry (I store mine in the refrigerator). When I typed up this recipe I realized that I omitted the olive oil by accident. This makes sense because my salad became dry when it sat and I had to add in a touch more mayo and lemon juice. I bet the olive oil would've loosened things up a touch more. If not, feel free to add a little more olive oil, lemon juice, and/or mayo before serving. Also, I found the leaves were great served with a wedge of lemon for drizzling right before eating. Word to the wise, I did season the dish with a touch of salt and pepper. I love salt and use it liberally. I held back on the salt in this recipe and was happy I did. I think it can quickly become too salty.
Using a large knife, mince and mash garlic to a paste with salt. Whisk together garlic paste, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and oil in a medium bowl. Stir in cheese and celery, then stir in walnuts, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate, covered for at least 3 hours to allow flavors to develop. Mound 1 tablespoon salad onto wide end of each endive leaf. Arrange on a platter and serve.
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