The slightly bitter flavour of the Belgian endives, combined with the sour apples, the salty feta cheese, the crunchy walnuts and the sweet succulent Parma ham, all balanced with the honey mustard dressing makes this salad a true delight.
Belgian endives or witlof is such a versatile ingredient that can be used in so many different types of meals. And it is perfect as part of a salad. Did you know that in Belgium, braised Belgian endives with ham and cheese is one of the national dishes? We use witloof, chicons or Belgian endives in a variety of ways.
Belgian endive in a salad
Belgian endives can perfectly be eaten raw. However, for some people the flavour might be too bitter. Depending on the type of endive, the taste can indeed be too bitter. But no worries, this can be solved in various ways.
First of all, remove the hard inner core at the bottom part of the endive. Because sometimes that inner core can have a very strong flavour. Also, the other ingredients of the salad as well as the dressing can balance the flavours of the endive salad to a delicious taste.
Honey mustard dressing for endive salad
I love the pungent taste of mustard in a dressing. Make sure to use a good quality mustard, like Dijon or whole grain. To balance the strong flavour of the mustard, I add some sweetness, like honey or maple syrup. A dressing or vinaigrette needs to bring together all the flavours of the various ingredients in a salad, not to overpower it. Therefore, it’s important to use a mild flavoured vinegar like white or red wine, apple cider, or rice vinegar. A normal white vinegar is too strong and sour and will not taste nice on the salad. Also, to choose a good oil is important for a vinaigrette. I have used an extra virgin olive oil, but you can use any nice oil you have in your pantry.
When preparing the dressing, make sure to first whisk the honey, mustard and vinegar together and add the oil later. When you add the oil from the start, the ingredients will not mix well and all the ingredients will separate if not properly mixed. So my advice is to only add the oil after the other ingredients have been mixed well. Adding the oil will emulsify everything into a nice vinaigrette. You don’t need a fancy blender. Just use a whisk to mix everything well.
Belgian endive salad with apple, ham, walnuts and feta cheese
Belgian Endives: I like to slice the endives finely for a salad, but keep the yellow tops of the cone shaped vegetable as a whole. They have a great flavour and it’s nice for extra decoration on your plate. I also add a few gherkins or pickled cucumbers to the salad for crunchiness and I love the flavour of the pickle. If you don’t have gherkins, you can also replace them with slices of radishes.
Feta Cheese: The saltiness of the feta cheese combines really well with the mild bitter taste of the Belgian endive. Another cheese that works really well in this salad is any blue cheese, like Gorgonzola.
Ham: The sweet and succulent taste of Italian Parma ham or Spanish Serrano ham pairs really well with Belgian endives or witlof. You can of course also use cooked ham or another type of cured meat.
Apple: The sour tasty of a Granny Smith apple is what made me choose it for this salad. But any type of apple you prefer will do. To have an extra crunch I do not peel the apples and the bright green colour makes the salad very attractive.
Belgian endive salad with apple, ham, walnut and feta cheese
- 2 large Belgian endives finely sliced
- 1 Granny Smith apple cored and thinly sliced
- 1 shallot minced
- 100 g (3.5 ounces) feta cheese
- 100 g (3.5 ounces) Parma ham in slices
- 3 gherkins or pickled cucumber finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons walnuts roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons Apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, honey and vinegar until everything is properly mixed together. Drizzle in the oil and whisk the vinaigrette until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Slice the endives lengthwise in half and slice finely. Keep the yellow tops as a whole for decoration.
- Dice the gherkins and finely mince the shallot.
- Core the apple and cut it in julienne sticks. Roughly chop the walnuts.
- In a large bowl or on a plate, combine the endives, apple, gherkins, shallot, Parma ham and walnuts. Crumble the feta cheese on top, decorate with the endive tops. Finish by drizzling the vinaigrette over the salad and toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- For the vinaigrette, I have used olive oil. But you can use any other oil you like or have available at home.
- I have used apple cider vinegar, but any other vinegar will do. Try to avoid the normal white vinegar as it has quite a strong taste making the dressing too sour for this salad.
- The walnuts can either be used raw, or can be lightly toasted before using it in the salad.
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