I love the complexity of the bitter/sweet contrast of this salad. It may seem as if the nut process is well, maybe a little nutty. I promise it is worth the extra effort. The recipe makes more candied nuts than you will need for the salad and you will be happy for the leftovers. Use them crushed over some dark chocolate ice cream, to grab a few to satisfy your mid-afternoon sweet tooth or use on a cheese plate (thanks NH). This salad makes a great base for a simply grilled, garlicky chicken breast.
endive, radicchio and candied hazelnut salad with white balsamic vinaigrette
1 head of radicchio, roughly sliced
4 spears of endive, sliced
1/3 c candied hazelnuts
shaved parmesan or manchego cheese
Combine all of the above in a large bowl.
for the dressing:
1/3 c olive oil
4 T white balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
In a blender, combine the vinegar and garlic and drizzle in the oil until emulsified. Salt and pepper to taste.
for the hazelnuts:
1 1/2 c hazelnuts
3/4 c sugar
1/2 t smoke sea salt (or sea salt)
3/4 t cinnamon
4 T milk
splash of vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°
Toast the hazelnuts for about 10-12 minutes, until you can see some color and they are very fragrant. Cool for 30 seconds or so. Pour the nuts onto a rimmed sheet pan lined with paper towels. Using another paper towel, rub the skins off the nuts. They will come off rather easily but don't worry about perfection.
In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, combine the the remaining ingredients, heating slowly until the sugar melts and a syrup begins to form. In about 8-10 minutes, 245-250° if you have a candy thermometer, you are good to go. Another test is to drop a little of the sugar into a small bowl of water. If it is ready, a small, flexible ball of sugar will form (softball stage) but using 8 minutes should work out just fine.
Once done, toss in the toasted hazelnuts, covering completely with the mixture. Pour out onto a sheet pan lined with parchment or a silpat and quickly separate the nuts with something other than your hands as they will be hot little bombs. Cool completely before using. They will keep in an airtight container for a week or so.