Weirdly, I am beginning to think about Autumn. I blame the jet stream which is currently acting as a shield preventing the warm air of the south from entering our northern climes. But the nights are drawing in too; gone already are the gorgeous long days of endless light and, come sundown, the candles are now lit and the blinds are placed at a jaunty angle. This is RIDICULOUS, there’s much more summer to come and sunny food to share by the beach or sitting at long tables set up in grand piazzas (we have cunningly left our annual summer break to the very last minute so we can have fun when everyone else is back at work). Having said all that, I realise that I am beginning to look forward to the more robust textures and tastes of Autumn so when, I picked up this English pink-edged endive yesterday, my imagination came up with this Perigord-inspired salad which is loosely based on one I ate during the annual walnut harvest a few years ago. People tend to worry about using endive, an ingredient much more typical of French cuisine, but this flavourful fruity dressing easily offsets the natural bitterness of the leaves and the golden sultanas add exciting pops of sweetness so don’t be afraid to give it a try. This is still a beautifully summery dish but with a tiny glint in its eye that seems to suggest, come on now, let’s hunker down and drink wine in front of the fire. Autumn is, after all, just around the corner. This dressing benefits from being prepared a few hours before serving to allow the flavours to mingle together.
2 heads of endive
1 red onion
1 tsp sumac
A handful of walnuts
A handful of golden sultanas
For the dressing
Zest and juice of 1 large orange
100g of extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of dried oregano
A splash of red wine vinegar
How I make it
A couple of hours before you’re ready to serve, place the dressing ingredients – with the exception of the red wine vinegar – in a bowl. Using balloon whisk, gently bring everything together.
Taste and add a splash of red wine vinegar to balance out the flavours. Cover and set aside.
At the same time, slice the red onion very thinly (I use a mandolin on its second lowest setting). Place the onion in a bowl and, using your hand, work in the sumac. Cover and set aside (this process removes the natural sourness of the onions making them much nicer to taste and easier to digest).
When you’re ready to serve, bring the dressing together again with a balloon whisk. Arrange the endive leaves, onion slices, walnuts and sultanas on a plate and drizzle with the dressing.
Any remaining dressing can be kept in a sealed jar in the fridge for around a week.