Make it: Pear and Chicory Salad With Marcona Almonds and Queso de Valdeón

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Chef Carolyn Kumpe supplied this recipe for a sexy autumn salad. It’s easy to make but requires a little shopping legwork. “I wanted to introduce Sacramento to some super-yummy ingredients,” explains Kumpe, who once worked for San Francisco’s famed Zuni Cafe and now runs the cooking school at East Bay Restaurant Supply in Sacramento’s River District. 

6    tablespoons La Tourangelle roasted almond oil*
2    tablespoons Sweet Pedro Ximénez Vinegar Gran Reserva 25 (aged sweet sherry vinegar)*
2    teaspoons Mitica orange blossom honey**
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2    heads Belgian endive, leaves separated
1/2    head radicchio or 1 cup chicory, torn into pieces
2    ripe pears (red Bartlett, Comice or Seckle), halved, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4    cup marcona almonds*
1/4    cup queso de valdeón (Spanish blue cheese)**, crumbled into bite-size pieces

*Available at Nugget Markets; **Available at Whole Foods Market
To make the dressing, whisk the almond oil, vinegar and honey together in a small bowl. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Set aside.

Place the endive, radicchio, pears, almonds and cheese in a salad bowl. Add the vinaigrette and gently toss. Serve immediately on chilled plates. Serves 4.