Raymond Blanc's Chicory, Walnut And Roquefort Salad
Here is one of the simple recipes that I am sure you will enjoy.
Roquefort (*1) is often regarded as a king of blue cheese, although Stilton and many British blue cheeses such as Cashel Blue, Blue Vinney, Yorkshire blue and Barkham Blue could be great substitutes in this dish. Here is one of the simple recipes that I am sure you will enjoy. Ensure that the cheese is kept nice and chilled so that you can crumble it easily. If old, the oil within the walnuts will turn rancid, overpowering and unpleasant, so choose carefully.
Should you wish, you can replace chicory with any other winter salad leaves such as (Did you know) –lambs lettuce, frisee and escarole are best suited to this dish as these leaves are hardy and can take cold weather and frost.
Serves (Yield): 4 Difficulty rating: ●○○
Preparation time: 5 mins Cooking time: n/a
Ingredients for the Roquefort dressing:
50g Roquefort cheese, room temperature
20g Water, warm (*2)
15ml 1 tbsp White wine vinegar
30ml 2 tbsp Olive oil, extra virgin (*3)
½ g 1 pinch Pepper, black, freshly ground
For the salad:
800g 4 Chicory (*4), small, cut in ¼‘s lengthways
100g Walnuts, (*5) roughly chopped
250g 1 medium Pear or Apple, ripe but firm, cored, halved, finely sliced
60g 1 stick Celery, finely sliced
80g Roquefort, cold, crumbled
10g 2 tsp Chives, finely chopped.
Preparing the dressing and dressing the salad:
In a large bowl, using a spatula, cream the Roquefort cheese to a smooth paste, add the warm water, white wine vinegar and whisk until smooth.
Gradually whisk in the olive oil little by little; season to taste with the freshly ground black pepper. (*6)
Toss the chicory, walnut, pear, celery and 2/3 of the Roquefort into the dressing and arrange on a large serving plate.
To finish, crumble the remaining cold Roquefort (*7) over the salad and sprinkle with chopped chives.
Chef’s note (*1):
*1 Roquefort, discovered in 79 AD is probably one of the oldest cheeses in the world, emperor Charlemagne used to enjoy Roquefort at his Christmas feasts. The taste is awesome, based on salty acid, with a huge flavour to support it. It is a raw ewe’s milk cheese that is matured in caves in the Aveyron region of France. The mould penicillium is found in these caves gives it its distinctive flavour, aroma and its blue veins.
*2 The warm water whisked into the creamed Roquefort will help to create a smooth dressing and emulsion
*3 Use your best olive oil for your dressings.
*4 Chicory – to me it is one of the very best winter salad, the texture is crunchy and the taste of a beautiful bitter sweet. There are many varieties or chicory, with the white and purple being the most striking. It is mostly a winter salad.
*5 Walnuts are the perfect companion to most cheese. Roquefort is no exception. They also are a real super food; besides being one of the strongest antioxidant. Their oil has a high concentration of Omega 3 fats. It contains Melatonin which regulates sleep, so they are the perfect evening food for a good nights sleep. For men, it is now proven that they are a reducing factor in prostate cancer!!! But in our recipe we include them for their flavour.
*6 Due to the saltiness of the Roquefort no additional salt is needed in the recipe.
*7 It is better to have the Roquefort cold as it will be easier to crumble.
The addition of some garlic croutons or some grilled bacon lardoons would be delicious. Prunes and raisin, dried apricots will also add wonderful tastes and textures.
Finely chop the salad ingredients, mix with the dressing and fill a few whole chicory leaves, perfect little finger food. Or serve on some toasted croutons or in small pieces of peeled celery.
(c) Raymond Blanc