On the spectrum between carrot sticks and a decadent baked brie, my favorite appetizers fall somewhere in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, there’s certainly a time and a place for both (hint for what’s coming next to the blog…. and it’s not carrot sticks). Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when some kitchen experimentation led me to these “sliders,” which please both the health nut and cheese lovers alike. The sliders have crunch, tang, sweetness, and they “check the boxes” for both presentation and ease of assembly. And, if you would rather make them into a side salad, go right ahead; I’ve included instructions (and pictures) for that as well.
ENDIVE “SLIDERS” (OR SIDE SALAD) WITH APPLE, CANDIED PECANS, FROMAGE BLANC, AND CRANBERRY-SHALLOT DRESSING
makes 4 side salads or roughly 25 “sliders”
3/4 pound Belgian endives
4 ounces fromage blanc (can substitute goat cheese)
1/2 a large apple, cut into small, bite-sized pieces (I’ve used Sugarbee, honeycrisp, pink lady – anything on the sweeter side, crisp, and with red skin)
1 cup candied pecans (see recipe below)
cranberry-shallot dressing (recipe below)
1-2 teaspoons rosemary, chopped finely (optional)
1 cup pecans, chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a blender or food processor, blend the cranberries together until minced. Spoon into a small mixing bowl and whisk together with the remaining dressing ingredients. Set aside.
In a small bowl, toss together the candied pecan ingredients. Toast at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes, stirring halfway.
SLIDERS: Trim the ends off the endives and remove the large and medium sized leaves. Discard the smallest leaves or save them for use in a salad. Arrange the endive leaves on a serving platter. Break up the fromage blanc into small pieces and put a couple pieces on each endive leaf. Put two small apple pieces and a few pecan pieces on each endive. Spoon 1-2 teaspoons of the cranberry shallot dressing onto each endive “slider”. Garnish with a sprinkling of finely chopped rosemary.
SIDE SALAD: These ingredients can also be made into 4 side salads. Plate each salad individually by doing the following: Use all the endive leaves to create a base layer on 4 salad plates. Divide up the fromage blanc, apple, and pecans evenly between the 4 plates. Dress each salad with desired amount of dressing and garnish with finely chopped rosemary.