Friday, November 21, 2014

Jeweled Holiday Salad with California Endive, Roasted Beets and Butternut and a Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Autumn brings color into our lives with not only with falling leaves, but with colorful produce filling the tables at local markets.  Brightly hued butternut squashes contrast beautifully with vibrant bunches of greens and brilliant baskets of pomegranates.

California Endive
Endive Instagram!
But have you thought of California Endive?  For years I'd walked past those little torpedo-like greens simply because I didn't know what to do with them.  Then a few years ago a girlfriend served the leaves with a savory filling at a holiday gathering, and I've been hooked ever since.

A member of the chicory family, endive is related to radicchio, escarole and frissee.  Its crisp texture and sweet nutty flavor bring a mild bitterness to your recipes, and endive is good either cooked or raw.

A California girl through and through, an opportunity landing in my inbox to promote California Endive shines right up my alley.  But the opportunity didn't stop there... A box filled with brilliant, perfectly formed red and green California Endives arrived packaged with a can of Italian Nudo Olive Oil and a Bottle of Rios do Chile Carmenère along with a challenge to create a fall themed side dish suitable for your holiday table.  My kind of challenge!!

I have to admit to using the olive oil for a few days before getting to my fall challenge.  Do you recall the Smashed Avocado Toast topped with Oiled Tomatoes? Yep... that was the Nudo Oil.  We tired the toast with Nudo oil and again with a generic oil from my pantry, and Liv actually noticed the difference without me saying anything.  This Nudo oil is a keeper.

Here's were my food blogger job brings me incredible satisfaction as well as introductions that grow into relationships.  Nudo Italia features a concept that swells my heart... I think it's best said in their own words:

Jason Gibb and Cathy Rogers set up Nudo in 2005 after buying and restoring an abandoned 21 acre olive grove in Italy's Le Marche.

Their love of the Italian countryside inspired their now famous adopt an olive tree programme which allows people all over the world to adopt an Italian olive tree and receive its oil. The programme involves a collaboration between a group of small scale, artisanal olive producers in Le Marche, Abruzzo and Sicily. Each olive farmer keeps responsibility for the care of their grove, and all the olive oil goes into the Nudo adoption programme.

In giving financial security to the olive farmers, the programme makes viable the traditional farming methods which, quite simply,produce the world's best olive oil.

A love of simple natural food is the starting point for all Nudo products. They are all made from 100% natural, high quality, locally sourced ingredients. Why use artificial preservatives when olive oil is one of the best preservatives there is - and the most delicious?

Real oils pressed from trees raised with the love of the land owners keeps the quality high and the oils special.  Most exciting for me is the Il Fico Grove owned by Saverio Adamo.  While I didn't actually visit the grove near Alcamo on the Trapanese Coast of Sicily, my husband and I spent a day in the area, and I believe we drove nearly right by.

Trapanese Coast of Sicily seen from Erice ~ 2010
But back to our challenge... with beautiful California Endives and this fabulous olive oil, a colorful holiday salad seemed to be the proper venue to let the pure flavors of the ingredients shine.

Returning to a favorite of my Mom's, I roasted brightly hued butternut with garnet colored beets and fragrant sweet onions with the Nudo Oil and seasoned it all with a few dashes of dried oregano.  Moments later my kitchen sent aromas into the air that had us all swooning.

California endive and organic greens
Red endive adds holiday flair
Pairing the endive with fresh organic Farmer's Market greens (our mix had frisee, spinach, baby lettuces and arugula), I loved the contrast of the red endive with the emerald greens.  Truly a holiday mix, the roasted vegetables and pomegranate completed our rainbow.

But what about that Chilean wine you may ask??  As I tinkered with the salad, wine in the recipe just didn't seem right.  However, the Rios de Chile in my glass as I chopped, roasted and sliced made for a lovely evening.

Inviting my husband to partake as I prepped the salad (he was just home from a week long business trip), he took a sip and let out a long sigh along with an "Ahhh... that hit's the spot, did you pick this wine yourself?".

I'll admit here that my expertise in wine tasting doesn't go much beyond "Yep... that's a good one!" or "No, this one really isn't for me", but in this case, the Rios de Chile falls into the first category, "Yep... that's a good one!".  I wouldn't hesitate to bring a bottle to a gathering for any holiday this season, and I impressed my husband with my choice.  Here I'll leave you with the more professional tasting notes from the Pacific Wine Group:

"Intense ruby red with violet tints.  In the nose, aromas of dried fruits, red pepper and spice stand out.  In the mouth it is elegant, with soft round tannins, it's a wine with good persistence."

Wine with good persistence... while I'm not exactly sure what that means I like the phrase.  This wine made my salad prep a pleasure, and paired beautifully with our meal as we finished off the bottle.

Using the red endive for more of a holiday feel, this recipe will go beyond the holidays for me.  Filled with goodies like the roasted butternut and beets, the salad is hearty enough for a light lunch as well as and ideal vegetarian side to a holiday gathering.  Bright and jeweled with the colors of fresh California produce, the Italian oil and Chilean wine brought a bit of an international affair to our table.

Thank you to California Endive, Nudo Italia, and the Pacific Wine Group for the products that led me to this fun post filled with fresh produce and trips down memory lane.  We have a recipe here that's earned a spot in our regular rotation.

Jeweled Holiday Salad with California Endive, Roasted Beets and Butternut, and Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Filled with roasted goodies and topped with brilliant pomegranate and crunchy maple walnuts, this salad is visually beautiful on your holiday table, but it's the taste that will have you returning for more.  The slightly sweet Pomegranate Vinaigrette made with the Italian (Nudo) olive oil ties it all together.
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1 package salad greens (we use about 3 cups from our local Farmer's Market including baby lettuces, spinach, frisee and arugula)
2-3 heads red California Endive
3/4 cup butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small dice
3/4 cup beets, peeled and cut into small dice
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1-2 Tbs good quality olive oil (we LOVE Nudo)
sprinkle of flake salt (we like pink Himalayan)
1 small Asian pear, chopped or sliced (May sub apple)
1/3 cup pomegranate arils
Maple Glazed Walnuts (see recipe here)
Freshly ground pepper

Pomegranate Vinaigrette
2 Tbs good quality olive oil (we used our Nudo)
2 Tbs pure pomegranate juice
4 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp good quality mustard (we use Maille )

Preheat oven to 400º.

Place cut butternut, beets and onions onto a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil.  Toss to coat and sprinkle with the oregano and salt.  Toss again.

Place the pan into the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender.  About 15 minutes. (Time may vary depending on the size of your veggies... keep an eye, and give a few extra minutes if they are not tender at the 15 minute point, alternatively, check a bit early if your dice is very small).  This may be done a day ahead of time.

While the veggies are roasting, prepare the salad greens.  Place the greens into a large bowl.  Slice the endive from the tip, adding the red leaves to the salad.  Note, there is a thick core in the center of the endive, this may also be eaten, chop into smaller pieces, or alternatively use only the leaves (My family prefers the leaves).

Make the vinaigrette.  Place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk to combine.  Set aside until ready to use.

When the veggies are tender and lightly browned, remove from the oven and allow to cool.  (Note... we've also used the veggies warm from the oven in the salad, suit your preference in cooling.)

When cool, add the roasted veggies to the salad bowl along with the chopped Asian pear.  Whisk the vinaigrette again and then drizzle salad with desired amount.  Toss to coat and evenly distribute the veggies.

Top with pomegranate arils and maple walnuts, then freshly ground pepper if desired.  Salt to taste.

Serve immediately.

Liv Life Note:  The vegetables may be roasted a day ahead of time and chilled until ready to use, then the salad simply tossed together right before serving.

We gratefully received products from California Endive, Nudo Italia and the Pacific Wine Group for this post.  I was not paid to write this post, but I am excited to share my new finds.  All thoughts and opinions are my own... and I wouldn't have shared my experience if I was not happy with the products.

Photo credit


  1. What a beautiful salad. I have used endive as an appetizer, but I have never tried adding it to a salad. Thanks for the great recipe.

    1. I love the different texture it adds to salads... a favorite in our house!!

  2. I don't think I have ever bought endive. It looks gorgeous in this salad. I am going to have to buy some soon, and try this. I love all the colors, so festive!

  3. Gorgeous salad and beautiful presentation. I love endive. It's just the best.

  4. Perfect fall salad in time for the Thanksgiving table, Kim. I've got to start utilizing the poms before they're gone from the stores.

  5. What a fantastic salad! I've had endive many times, and have toured their facility which is amazing. It looks perfect in this salad, and I love the vinaigrette. Pinning!


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