18 July 2008
The salad was delicious.
Well, I continue to espouse Veganomicon, and in a full-blown "she admitted it! She's gonna marry a carrot!" kind of way. This time I wanted salad, particularly salad involving two heads of endive I'd bought because they were too awesome not to take home. I'd initially been thinking of braising them, but we turned out not to have any red wine. Boo! So I looked through all the books until I found "Pear and Endive Salad with Maple Candied Pecans". Then I looked through the kitchen for ingredients, and came up with this:
Endive White Peach Salad with Honey-Candied Pecans Instead
a head of endive
half a peach (or a whole one if they're small)
a handful of candied pecans
Vcon has you candy the pecans in maple syrup, which would clearly have been awesome had I had any maple syrup. I did have honey, though, so that's what I used. Honey definitely works: I'd done it before from Michel Nischan's Homegrown (which is incidentally well worth taking a look at, especially for the $6.50 used), so I knew it'd be good. Actually, that time I spiced the nuts as well: you could experiment with cayenne and etc. for spicy nut extravaganza. Vcon also has you use pears for the fruit content. If I were making this salad in the fall, I would totally use pears. It's July, though, and we had a bowlful of softball-sized white peaches that were essentially juice held together with skin. We've been eating them plain for dessert every night.
First, prep a rack for the finished nuts. I used a cookie rack over a paper towel. I would put the rack over an actual cookie sheet in future, though, so I can pry up and eat all the hardened drips of honey afterward. Yes. This really seems like a recipe for dishwashing disaster, but it isn't: honey melts under hot water.
Take half a cup of pecan halves (or walnuts or cashews or whatever you think will be tasty) and toast them in a low frying pan for five minutes. Watch them carefully and stir so they don't burn! Add a couple teaspoons of tasteless oil (I used safflower) and a pinch of salt. Stir it up and add honey (or maple syrup). I didn't measure the honey at all, just poured it out of the jar, but the official measurement was 1/4 cup. Stir everything up as the honey melts and bubbles and bubbles some more. Give it a couple minutes, then pour the nuts onto your prepared rack. Try to keep the extra honey liquid back in the pan as much as possible, but of course drips are going to get everywhere. It'll be ok. Spread the nuts into one layer to cool. If you have a bunch of liquid left, you might want to do what I did and drop driblets of it directly onto the nuts. This will make them extra honey-sticky later.
Cool the nuts on their rack in the refrigerator. You'll have enough for two or three salads.
Salad: chop out the endive's core and cut the rest into bite-size pieces. Cut the peach into slices, then cut each slice into a reasonable chunk. Distribute roughly equal amounts of endive, peach, and pecan into bowls.
At this point you can make and add vinaigrette if you want it. I made one, but decided I didn't want it, which was fine.
Eat it. You can eat it by itself, or do what I did and sear some red snapper in butter to go with it.
Red snapper in butter
Heat up a frying pan big enough to hold your filet of snapper. Put it over medium-high. When it's good and hot, throw in a chunk of butter. Tilt the pan around to get the butter everywhere as it melts and foams. When the butter is melted, throw in the fish. Salt and pepper the top. Let it cook for about five minute, or until the edges are opaque and starting to look golden. Then flip the filet, salt and pepper the other side, and let cook another five minutes, or until totally opaque and easily flakeable. Flip it onto a plate, arrange it next to your salad, and eat everything right away.
This combination was really great: everything was tasty and different, but no element clashed or overwhelmed the others. It was food I could actually serve my parents, which is pretty remarkable, since our cooking/eating styles are polar opposites. It also left me satisfied but not stuffed to the point of pain.
The salad was delicious.