Warm salads are one of those things that's usually associated with winter grains and root vegetables, but throwing wedges of leafy greens on the grill is a great way to intensify their flavor while turning the leaves and stems into a satisfying meal. This grilled endive salad with honey roasted cashews and gorgonzola is one of my favorite grilled salads for its balance of flavors, textures and tastes.
The char-grilled endives are dressed before they're grilled, which seasons them to the core. The high heat from the grill crisps the outer leaves, while rendering the stem meaty and crunchy. The smoky green flavor of the endives pairs beautifully with the salty pungent gorgonzola, which starts to melt as it hits the hot leaves. These components are all brought together by clusters of nutty honey roasted cashews. They start off crunchy and sweet as you take a bite, but slowly turn creamy as you chew, with small flashes of kosher salt that makes them unstoppably addictive. I always make some extra nuts because half of them inevitably end up in my stomach before they make it onto the salad.
The preparation for this salad is fairly simple, and since you can do it all on the grill, you can avoid heating up your house. First, the endives are dressed with olive oil, sherry vinegar and honey. By dressing the endive before it gets grilled, it not only keeps the endive from getting soggy at the end, it acts as a marinade. The honey in the dressing is less about adding sweetness and more about balancing out the acidity of the vinegar, while giving the grilled endives a gorgeous caramelized glaze as they grill.
For honey roasted cashews
- To make the honey roasted cashews, prepare a silicone mat, or a piece of parchment paper.
- Add the chopped cashews to a pan along with the honey and roast over medium heat until the nuts are medium brown and the honey has reached a dark brown. You can do this step over a grill if you like.
- Immediately turn the nuts out onto the silicone mat and then sprinkle the nuts with a little bit of kosher salt.
- For the endives, use paper towels to make the quartered pieces are very dry, and then line them up in a tray, cut-side up.
- Make the sauce by mixing together the olive oil, sherry vinegar and honey. This is easiest to do in a small plastic squeeze bottle, do you can just shake it and squeeze the dressing over the endives. Drizzle the sauce over the endives and the sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste.
- Heat your grill or broiler until hot and then place the endives on the grill, cut-side up. Grill 3-4 minutes or until grill marks appear on the bottom and then flip the endives over and grill for another 3-4 minutes, or until the edges of the endive are lightly charred.
- Return the grilled endives to the tray and drizzle with a little more olive oil. To plate the salad, pile the endive wedges into a tipi and then sprinkle with crumbled Gorgonzola, the honey roasted cashews and some parsley leaves. Finish with a bit of salt and pepper to taste.