Chicory Salad with Quince and Pecans

New Orleans chef John Besh says the combination of a bitter green with a sweet fruit and a strong cheese is a personal favorite of his. The version here features fresh quince, a winter fruit that's like a cross between an apple and a pear. If fresh quince is unavailable in the produce section, Besh suggests trying preserved quince from a jar.


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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 12

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  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and very finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • Salt
  • 2 quinces—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves (6 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicory, stems discarded and leaves torn into bite-size pieces (16 cups)
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese (4 ounces)

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large saucepan, combine the water with the cider vinegar, brown sugar, jalapeño, ginger, coriander, cinnamon stick and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add the sliced quince, cover and simmer over low heat until they are tender, about 15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the poached quince to a small bowl. Discard the quince poaching liquid.

  2. Meanwhile, spread the pecan halves on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 7 minutes, until the pecans are toasted.

  3. In a small bowl, stir the sherry and red wine vinegar with the vegetable oil, walnut oil and sugar. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

  4. In a large salad bowl, toss the chicory with the quince, pecans and blue cheese. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Serve right away.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 up to 1 day ahead. Refrigerate the poached quince and vinaigrette separately. Bring the poached quince and vinaigrette to room temperature before tossing the salad. The toasted pecan halves can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Contributed By Photo © Quentin Bacon Published December 2007

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