- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Lunch with a fellow foodie last fall was a culinary adventure in New York City. We discussed where to eat over several e-mails, and finally chose Perry Street,

a new restaurant by the celebrated chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

We swooned over raspberry gazpacho, delighted in slow-roasted chicken served in a corn and scallion broth, and couldn’t get enough of the dark chocolate pudding covered with candied violets.

We agreed that the dish we liked best, and the one we could reproduce most easily at home, was a frisee salad accompanied by fresh pickled peaches sprinkled with pistachios.

The salad was arranged on a long slender tray with sliced peaches on one side and a mound of curly frisee on the other. With the first bite of the frisee, I tasted a strong hint of goat cheese, although no crumbled bits of cheese appeared on my plate.

I asked the waiter about the salad. He said the greens were tossed in a dressing made simply by mixing creamy goat cheese with lime juice and oil. I loved the saltiness and creaminess of the cheese contrasted with the crisp, clear citrus accent of the lime and thought the sauce was a perfect partner for the tender, slightly bitter frisee.

Back in my Massachusetts kitchen, I assembled several batches of the goat cheese dressing until one approached the original. I coated some frisee with it and garnished my version with thinly sliced pears tossed in lime juice and with toasted walnuts instead of peaches and pistachios. I served the salad as an accompaniment to grilled flank steaks when we had weekend guests, and on another occasion with roasted salmon for a special luncheon.

Next week I’m having a couple over for soup and salad. I haven’t decided on the soup, although a hearty yellow lentil or a Tuscan bean potage are possibilities. The salad choice, however, is set. It will take me only a few minutes to prepare my variation of the very easy, yet distinctive frisee salad I had in New York several months ago.

Frisee salad with walnuts, pears and goat cheese dressing

1 large or 2 medium heads frisee, about 9 to 10 ounces total (see note)

1 ripe, but not mushy pear (Anjou or Bartlett work well)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, divided

4 tablespoons (2 ounces) creamy goat cheese

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed

½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

4 teaspoons chopped parsley

Rinse frisee, then pat dry. Remove and discard the base(s) to separate the leaves. Halve the pear lengthwise through the stem end. Core each half and slice thinly lengthwise. Place slices in a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon lime juice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use a fork (not a whisk) to mix together goat cheese, remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice, canola oil and salt. (Dressing will be quite thick.) Toss frisee in bowl with dressing, coating the leaves lightly. Taste and season with more salt as needed. Divide frisee among 4 salad plates. Garnish each serving with some pear slices and walnuts, then sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Note: Frisee (pronounced “free-zay”) is a member of the chicory family. Its slim, lacy leaves range in color from pale yellow to green and have a slightly bitter taste. Frisee is available in most groceries in the produce section. Heads range in size from 4 to 5 ounces to larger.


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