It’s not hard to find a use for chicory, also know as Belgian endive – I love these bitter and refreshing leaves, which works so well with fruit, mustard or nuts. You can cook with it or eat it raw. Below is a recipe from Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, featuring raw chicory with blue cheese and walnuts. Hugh recommends Blue Vinney from Dorset, but I’ve gone for Stilton here. This salad is totally delicious!
These white leaves are grown completely underground or indoors without light and were first cultivated in Belgium by accident.
1 handful shelled walnuts
2 small heads chicory
1 handful watercress, washed, trimmed and roughly torn
About 100g Dorset Blue Vinney, stilton or other blue cheese
For the dressing
1 small garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp cider vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
First, toast the walnuts. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Spread the nuts out evenly on a baking sheet and bake for eight to 10 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. Using the flat of a large knife, work the garlic and salt into a paste. Whisk together the garlic, mustard and vinegar, then add the oil in a slow trickle, whisking as you go. Set aside.
Cut off the base of each chicory and tear off all the leaves. Wash the leaves, dry, then place in a bowl along with the watercress. Trickle over a tablespoon of dressing and turn over the leaves with your hands, to ensure all the leaves are well coated. Divide between four plates, trickle a little more dressing over the top, scatter the toasted walnuts on top and crumble on the cheese. Serve immediately.