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Or, salade d'endives aux poivrons rouges, roquefort, et noix

This is a combination of two salads I have recently eaten and loved. The first version was at the house of Reine-Luce Neidert, one of the teachers I work with. We ate it at the end of the meal, with bread to mop up the tasty juices. This salad did not contain the roquefort. The second version, which omitted the peppers, I ate on the terrace of the Opéra Café in the Place de l'Horloge in Avignon. Sumptuous. On this second occasion, the dish was a meal in itself. Here in France, there seems to be some kind of heatwave going on at the moment. Hot weather makes me want to eat food which crunches loudly when I bite into it, and has the refreshing power of a gin and tonic. This does both.

Apparently endives are something of an acquired taste. Some people find them bitter and generally unpleasant. I find their unusual, perfumed taste to be delicious. If you must, I suppose you could replace the endive with plain old iceberg. Perhaps lamb's lettuce would be a more interesting alternative. The paler your endive leaves are, the less likely they are to be bitter.

Roquefort is the king of cheeses. No other cheese manages to combine such a sharp, flavoursome tang with such a creamy texture. If you don't have a specialist cheese shop nearby, I find the Société brand to work fine in this salad. I recently noticed that there is a cream version of this cheese, intended mainly for use in sauces. If this is available where you live, it adds an interesting extra touch. Your peppers should be firm and crisp.

What you need (to serve 4):

What you need to do:

  1. Separate out the endives into individual leaves. Rinse them under the cold tap, and dry them in a salad spinner.
  2. Wash the peppers (those damn chemicals, you see), deseed them, and slice into julienne-style strips.
  3. Cut the roquefort into small chunks, or crumble it, if you prefer.
  4. Combine the oil and vinegar to make a terribly simple French dressing. Put the endive leaves and pepper strips into a large salad bowl, pour the dressing over the top, and toss well but carefully.
  5. Scatter the roquefort chunks and the walnuts over the top.
  6. If you manage to find the creamed roquefort, this is best served in a couple of little pots to be passed around the table. Pick up an endive leave and use it as a little natural ladle to scoop up the creamy cheese.

It's nice to serve this with some generous hunks of baguette so that none of the precious cheese or vinaigrette goes to waste. Best enjoyed al fresco on a sunny day, with a bottle of something white or pink.

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