Summer is a season for light eating. Dining out, it can be a challenge to find dishes that are both refreshing and satisfying.

If you are looking for something different to delight your taste buds, try the new dinner salad at Black Sheep in Riverside: the Belgian Endive Salad with Roasted Pears and Point Reyes Blue Cheese. Executive chef Waylon Rivers carefully combines a creative mix of ingredients that complement each other in unexpected ways. Take the dressing – a verjus vinnagrette. It is made from the juice from un-ripened green grapes. “It’s popular in France,” Rivers says. “And it adds a sweetness to the dish.”

In many ways, this salad embodies their mission at Black Sheep, Rivers says. As a regional American restaurant that uses ingredients sourced locally and nationally, ingredients such as the California Point Reyes blue cheese and the candied pecans from Georgia speak to how their menu embraces iconic American cuisine. “We pick and choose the best parts of American culture to showcase them,” Rivers says.

The menu reinvents itself with the seasons three to four times a year, and the Belgian endive salad is a late spring and summer creation. The pears, seasonally harvested, are seared and caramelized, adding a depth of sweetness. They sit atop celery heart, the wide inside leaves of the celery stalk, which most people throw away, Rivers says. “It has the freshness of celery without the crunch, and adds different levels of texture.”

“As a dinner salad, it’s become one of our favorites,” Rivers said one recent day when he whipped one up for me. It’s now one of my favorites. The crumbles of blue cheese combined with the crunchy candied pecans and the naturally sweet pears was delicious.

Allan DeVault, a managing partner, suggests a glass of Underwood Pinot Noir, from Oregon, to compliment the meal. The wine may seem like an unexpected pairing as well, since most salads work well with white wines, DeVault said. “Because of the blue cheese and pecans, this salad goes much better with red.”

While the salad left me satisfied, DeVault suggests also combining it with their scallop and pork belly or chicken fried sweetbreads and waffles appetizers. For summer, or any time of year for that matter, “instead of eating one big entrée, try smaller portions of several dishes,” he said.

A vibrant dinner salad, and tasty appetizer “together can easily make a meal.”

 

Black Sheep is located at

534 Oak Street, Jacksonville, FL 32204

904.380.3091

blacksheep5points.com