Escarole, Chicory & Endive Salad with Goat Cheese Croutons & Olive Vinaigrette
This satisfying salad features a trio of greens —escarole, chicory, and Belgian endive — all varieties of the cichorium plant. These bitter winter greens pack just the right punch, and they stand up to serious accompaniments like Kalamata olive vinaigrette and warm marinated goat cheese croutons. This salad is elegant enough to kick off a diner party and also makes a great lunch.
Each of the bitter winter greens contributes a different flavor and texture, but if you can't find all three, it will still be delicious.
A quick primer on bitter winter greens
Escarole, chicory, and Belgian endive all derive from the same plant.
Escarole has a flatter, broader leaf and generally a bit of a milder taste than chicory.
Chicory has thinner, curlier leaves and often has a slightly more pungent bitter taste.
Belgian endive, which has pale, oblong leaves, is the result of a true labor of love. Farmers harvest very young chicory plants and then re-plant the roots, growing them in total darkness to produce the almost pure-white endive.
For the croutons
- 1 four-ounce log fresh goat cheese
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 half-inch-thick slices baguette, cut on the diagonal so they're very long
- 1 garlic clove, cut in half lengthwise
For the dressing
- 3 anchovy fillets, patted dry
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 small shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata or Niçoise olives, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad
- 1/2 small head escarole
- 1/2 small head chicory
- 1 small Belgian endive
- 1 recipe Olive Vinaigrette, above
Make the croutons
- Slice the goat cheese into four rounds and place them in a small, shallow bowl in a single layer. Don't worry if they're not gorgeous, since you'll be spreading them on the croutons later anyway.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over top and sprinkle evenly with the thyme and pepper. Ideally, you should marinate these in the fridge for a few hours, but if you don't have the time, just set it aside at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Preheat the oven or a toaster oven to 400°F.
- Rub the baguette slices with the cut sides of the garlic clove, and brush them with the remaining teaspoon olive oil.
- Bake in a small, shallow baking pan until lightly browned around the edges, about 5 minutes.
- Let cool slightly. Then spread each crouton with one round of goat cheese; drizzle a bit of the marinade on top. Return to oven for about 5 minutes, until goat cheese is warm.
Make the dressing
- Combine the anchovy and garlic on a cutting board. Finely chop them together and then mash to a paste with the side of a chef's knife. Transfer the paste to a bowl or a small glass jar with a lid.
- Add the minced shallot, lemon juice and vinegar to the anchovy paste, season with pepper, and let sit for ten minutes.
- Add the chopped olives, parsley and olive oil. Close the jar and shake to combine, or whisk together thoroughly.
Make the salad
- Thoroughly wash the escarole, chicory, and endive.
- Tear the escarole and chicory into bite-size pieces; trim the root end from the endive and slice leaves crosswise,, or keep the leaves intact if you like.
- Toss together to distribute.
- Pour some Olive Vinaigrette onto the salad a little at a time and toss, reserving a little dressing to drizzle over the croutons.
- Divide the salad among four plates, garnish each with a crouton, and drizzle a little dressing over each crouton.
The olive vinaigrette only gets better as it sits in the fridge for a few days, so you can make it in advance or make extra if you like.