I adapted this from a salad served by our friends Martha and Chris and I think it makes the perfect light winter starter, easy on the eye and the stomach but packed full of flavour and texture. Quick and easy, too.
Vegetarians can skip this bit but when I made this for a recent luncheon party I added strips of smoked and spiced venison salami. A fennel salami would also work well. Omnivore or herbivore, please try the dressing, it's what brings it all together.
Chicory, Stilton and Hazelnut Salad (serves 6-8 as a starter)
2 heads of red chicory
2 heads of white chicory
A double handful of toasted hazelnuts (100-150g)
About 120g Stilton, crumbled
About 60-80g venison or fennel salami (optional), sliced into matchsticks or diced
For the dressing:
1 heaped tspn Dijon mustard
1 tbsp made mayonnaise
1 tspn runny honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tspn green peppercorns, drained
2 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar(or more, to taste)
100ml olive oil
In a small bowl, mix the mustard, mayonnaise, honey and lemon juice or vinegar. Add a couple of grinds of salt and pepper, then whisk in the olive oil until you have a smooth emulsion. Stir in the green peppercorns, check the seasoning and add more lemon juice, salt and pepper if necessary. Set to one side.
Trim the base of the chicory bulbs and break off the leaves. Put a couple of tablespoons of the dressing in a large bowl and add the chicory, tossing it to coat very lightly but thoroughly (easiest with your hands).
To serve, divide the red and white chicory leaves between individual plates and scatter with hazelnuts and Stilton (and the salami, if using). Dot a little more dressing over the plates, fishing up a few green peppercorns from the bottom for each serving, and eat.