Enjoy this salad in winter when escarole is at its best. You will probably have to trim away a lot of dark leaves to reach the pale, crisp heart, but don’t throw them away. Slice them into ribbons and add them to chicken-rice soup, or braise in olive oil with garlic and toss with pasta.
I would serve this salad after the main course and continue pouring whatever wine was on the table. I like red wine with Gruyère, but a dry Riesling would work, too.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
for the vinaigrette:
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1½ tablespoons walnut oil
1½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 large shallot, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup walnuts
2 heads escarole, pale heart only, trimmed
1/3 pound Gruyere, trimmed of any rind and cut into matchstick-size pieces
½ cup minced Italian parsley
To make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, vinegar, shallot, and salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 30 minutes to allow shallot flavor to mellow. Taste and adjust the balance as needed.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet until fragrant and lightly colored, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Break any large pieces up by hand.
In a large salad bowl, combine the escarole, walnuts, Gruyére, and parsley. Add enough of the dressing to coat the salad lightly; you may not need it all. Toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss again. Serve immediately.