Belgian Endive with Asian Pear, Spiced Pecans, and Walnut Vinaigrette

Belgian Endive with Asian Pear, Spiced Pecans, and Walnut VinaigretteThis is a refreshingly different salad that holds myriad flavors in its bowl. Asian pear and fennel lend a slightly exotic note, highlighted by crunchy Spiced Pecans. If you can’t find the firm, mild Asian pear, substitute a Bosc pear. Make the pecans in advance; they require 15 minutes in the oven and about the same amount of time to cool down. You’ll have extra nuts, which you can use for snacks or to serve guests as a simple appetizer on their own.

Showing just a hint of sweetness, this first course would pair easily with an off-dry sparkling wine such as Chandon Extra-Dry Riche. Fruity still wines like Riesling and Gewürztraminer match well here, too.

2 tbsp toasted walnut oil

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp Champagne or white wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

Leaves from 3 Belgian endives

1 head frisée lettuce, cored and coarsely chopped

1 fennel bulb, core and stalks removed, cut into thin rounds

1 Asian pear, cored and cut into matchsticks about 1/4 in/6 mm thick

Salt and freshly ground pepper (optional)

1/3 cup/40 g Spiced Pecans

In a large salad bowl, combine the walnut oil, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, shallot, and garlic. Stir until the vinaigrette thickens and all the ingredients are thoroughly blended.

Add the endives/chicory, frisée, fennel, and pear to the bowl. Toss gently until evenly coated with the vinaigrette. If desired, season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide among 4 salad plates and garnish with the pecans. Serve at once.

Serves 4

In a small sauté pan, over medium-low heat, combine the 1/2 cup chervil leaves with the 1/2 cup olive oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil is hot and small bubbles form around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Strain the chervil-infused oil through a fine-mesh sieve, save and reserve. Discard the chervil.
In a soup pot, heat the 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the leek and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes and red bell pepper and sauté for 3 minutes longer. Add the stock, clam juice, wine, and 1 tsp salt, and mix well. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut the corn kernels from the ears of corn. Add the corn kernels to the soup and simmer until the corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the crab and cook for 2 more minutes to heat through. Stir in the cream and remove from heat. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Ladle the bisque into warm bowls. Swirl 1/2 to 1 tsp chervil oil into each serving and garnish with the 2 tbsp chervil leaves. Serve hot.