Grilling endive caramelizes the leaves and takes away some of its bitter edge. Sweet figs, bold blue cheese and tart currant-orange dressing complete this salad, which is delicious with a glass of Pinot Noir or other earthy red wine.
Figs & Purple Endive Salad with Currant Dressing
For the currant dressing:
2 Tbs. dried currants
2 Tbs. fresh orange juice
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. pine nuts (optional)
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise
6 ripe but firm purple figs, halved
2 large heads purple-tipped Belgian endive, cores intact, halved or quartered lengthwise
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. crumbled blue cheese
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium heat.
Combine the currants and orange juice in a microwave-safe bowl, cover and microwave on “high” for 1 minute.
In a large bowl, whisk together the 3 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Stir in the currant mixture. Let the dressing stand for 15 minutes.
In a dry small frying pan, toast the pine nuts (if using) over medium-low heat, stirring, until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Pour onto a plate.
In a bowl, combine the fennel, figs, endive, the 1 tablespoon olive oil, and lemon juice and toss to coat evenly. Put the figs, endive and fennel in a grill basket and grill, turning often, until the vegetables are wilted and the figs are softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the dressing and toss gently to mix. Taste and adjust the seasonings, then serve garnished with the crumbled blue cheese and pine nuts. Serves 4-6.
Find more creative and colorful salads in our cookbook Salad of the Day, by Georgeanne Brennan.