Contrary to what our government wants you to think, France is actually a great place. Unfortunately, it is a bit far away and they speak some crazy language so popping in for dinner can be a bit of an ordeal. Never fear. A few key pieces of produce and couple of eggs later and you too can have a 35 hour work week and questionable hygiene (I really do like the French, I swear).
I was amazed at how tasty and easy a classic French salad with endive, pear, walnut, and blue cheese is. Seriously, it’s just endives, pears, walnuts – ok so it’s pretty self explanatory. Just peel the leaves off some endives and give them a wash. Then toast some walnut pieces. Slice a pear and toss the pieces in the vinaigrette so they don’t brown. Throw it all together and crumble some blue cheese on top. Spoon on a little more dressing and let the good times roll.
Food addict note: Traditionally, I hear, one would use Roquefort in this, but we used a raw Bleu D’Auvergne that made my knees weak with piquant, creamy deliciousness. What? I said it was a food addict note.
Oh right, the dressing. This is not a Thousand Island kind of situation. When we were in France, they seemed to have one national dressing. It’s a kind of rich, mild, mustard thing that was executed with vastly varying degrees of success. When it was good, it was real good, but when it was bad - ughn, it still makes me shudder.
Lucky for you, this is the perfect dressing for this salad and this recipe has been personally vetted by the lovely and talented Mme. Pants, the Wonder Dumplings, and the rest of the Pants family (yeah, that’s just me. You got something to say?).
The original version of this dressing (and meal) hails from the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ina Garten.
Take a tablespoon and a half of white wine or Champagne vinegar, a little less than a teaspoon of good mustard and a raw egg yolk and whisk them together. (“I’m gonna get salmonella. I’m gonna get salmonella.” You bunch of whiners. If you’re eating stuff raw just make sure it’s fresh, then store and handle it properly. No worries.)
Throw in some salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar then whisk in extra virgin olive oil to taste- anywhere from two to eight tablespoons. That’s it. Easy, see?
For the full Provencal effect, you can have this with some herb baked eggs. I’ll give you the speedy rundown for this simple dish.
Get some oven-proof dishes. Turn on your broiler. Put a little cream and butter in each dish and slap them under the broiler for 3 minutes. While that’s heating, crack two or three eggs per person in separate bowls. Mince some garlic and some of your favorite fresh herbs (we used thyme, parsley, basil, and lavender).
Pull out the hot dishes. Pour in the eggs. Add salt and pepper. Toss in the garlic and herb mix. Everything goes back under the broiler for one to six minutes depending on how you like your eggs. Poof, it’s France.
Serve it all with a hunk of toasted sour dough bread and some sparkling wine and it doesn’t get much better.
Damn that’s good.