No, I don't mean « salade » in the French metaphorical sense — a tangle, a muddle, a mess. "Oh what a mess" the world is these days. We are all feeling it, one way or another. What twists and turns will the French presidential election contribute to the "salad"? We shall see.
What I was really thinking of when I said « salade » was something we recently ate as salad that we'd never eaten that way before. It was a salad of Belgian endive, but not of the kind you might know and either love or hate. That would be une salade d'endives aux betteraves. Toasted walnuts or pecans are a good addition.
Many people I know feel strongly about both endives and betteraves (beets, we call them in America, or "red beets"). A lot of people find beets especially unpalatable. They really don't like them when they come out of a can, as they often do in the U.S. I've never seen canned beets in France — at least not that I can remember.
They are sold cooked, though, most of the time, and either just displayed in a crate in market stands or supermarket produce departments, or "shrink-wrapped" in plastic. The best way to prepare beets is to buy them uncooked, wrap them in foil, and cook them in the oven. It takes a while, but the flavor is much superior to any other version.
Okay, back to endives. Belgian endives, they are called in the U.S., where most people have never eaten them — not served raw as salad greens, and not served cooked with, say, a cheese sauce. Walt and I both love them both ways, and I think most people in France and Belgium do too.
So a week or two ago, I bought a bag of fresh, raw endives at the supermarket. I was going to use them as salad greens — they are really good with salad ingredients like crumbled blue or Roquefort cheese, diced onion or shallot, toasted walnuts, or cooked bacon lardons. Trouble was, we were eating a lot of other green vegetables at the time, so I never got around to making the endives into salad.
I finally realized I'd better cook them so they wouldn't spoil so fast. I cooked them in simmering water with white wine, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, until they were tender. Then I browned them in a frying pan in a mixture of olive and sunflower oil. Often, I cook them in butter, but in the back of my mind was the idea that cooked endives might make a good cold salad, and you don't usually have melted butter in salads. This would also be a good way of preparing them for the freezer.
So a few days later, we ate some of the endives as a salad, with a dressing of olive oil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Guess what — they were really good done that way. I'll do it again soon. Another expression in French is « raconter des salades » — "to tell a mess of lies"... This is not an example of that.