Belgian Endive with Roquefort, Walnuts and Cranberries, by Chef David Vartanian

Way back in 2011, I introduced Christine Vartanian-Datian to the readers of The Armenian Kitchen. In the story I mentioned that Christine’s love of cooking was passed down from her grandmother and mother. Another family member, Christine’s cousin, David Vartanian, also inherited the ‘cooking gene’. He is a highly regarded chef at The Vintage Press in Visalia, CA.

David Vartanian ,named one of America’s Best Chefs.

I haven’t been to the Fresno, CA area in almost 50 years (yikes!), but if I ever do get back there, I will certainly pay a visit to Chef Vartanian’s restaurant. (Please read the full details below.)

Christine offered the following recipe from Chef David for The Armenian Kitchen to share. Please enjoy!

Belgian Endive with Roquefort, Walnuts and Cranberries

This salad with crunchy walnuts is the real-deal for blue cheese lovers.  Pair with a grilled steak or lamb chops and boiled baby red skin potatoes for a classic steak house meal.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 31 minutes
Course Salad
Servings 4


Ingredients for Roquefort Dressing:

  • ¼ cup Roquefort cheese (crumbled)
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • cup buttermilk
  • 2 limes (juiced)
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch black pepper

Ingredients for Salad:

  • 4 heads Belgian endive
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup California walnuts (coarsely chopped)
  • 4 oz. Roquefort cheese (coarsely crumbled)
  • ½ cup Roquefort dressing (As prepared for this recipe)
  • watercress (for garnish, optional)


Preparation for Roquefort dressing:

  • Melt Roquefort cheese in the oven or in a pan on top of the stove, being very careful not to scorch. Let cool.
  • In a bowl, combine the melted cheese, mayonnaise, buttermilk, juice of two limes, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, red wine vinegar, and black pepper; mix well until all ingredients are combined. If desired, add an additional 2 ounces of Roquefort cheese for a more intense flavor.

Salad Preparation:

  • Trim the base of the endive using a diagonal cut, then separate the leaves. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Toss the cranberries, nuts and Roquefort together in a bowl, being careful not to break up the Roquefort too much.
  • Spoon the mixture into the endive leaves and garnish with the watercress, if using. 
  • For advance preparation: Fill the Belgian endive leaves up to three hours before; cover and chill.  Garnish just before serving.  Drizzle with Roquefort Salad Dressing, as desired.  


The Vintage Press Restaurant, in Visalia, California is one of Central California’s most elegant dining experiences. Since 1966, the
Vartanian family has welcomed local residents, visitors and dignitaries alike
on many special occasions.  Wine Spectator writes that the Vintage Press has “one of the best wine lists in the world,” while Fodor’s raves it is “The best restaurant in the
Central Valley.”  The L.A. Times applauds the Vintage Press as “a bastion of culinary merit.”  With four distinctive rooms and classic menus that reflect the current season, the Vintage Press invites you to join them at your earliest opportunity. The Vintage Press is renowned for its outstanding food and service.  Critics believe this
is the best restaurant in the Sequoia region and a true fine-dining experience,
with white tablecloths, plush red leather banquettes and exceptional
service.  The Vintage Press serves classic beef, lamb, seafood and specialty dishes. The exceptional menu encompasses a wide range of influences, meaning you could order the excellent lamb kebobs while your companion feasts on spicy chile relleno.  Classic American dishes and pastas are well done, especially the restaurant’s famed filet mignon. The wine list is similarly superlative. 
“Best Place in Visalia!”
“The VP, as it’s commonly called, is the finest restaurant in Visalia. The food is always amazing. The service is impeccable. And the atmosphere provides an elegant feeling. Outstanding restaurant!”
– Trip Advisor, 2016
“A Favorite for Everyone”
“This fine dining establishment is a favorite for everyone in the area as well as for many who drive long distances to enjoy a fabulous meal. You can’t go wrong whether you choose from the menu or from the always interesting list of specials for the day. The chef, David Vartanian, should have a TV show about farm to table ingredients as well as unusual takes on the familiar. From comfort food to exotic fare, he is a master.”
– Trip Advisor, 2017
216 N. Willis St.
Visalia, CA 93291
Phone: (559) 733-3033
Featuring upscale, classic cuisine with a creative twist
and farm to table sensibility.
Open for Lunch, Dinner or Sunday Brunch.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
(Visited 336 times, 1 visits today)


  1. Penny Land February 12, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    I grew up in Visalia and one of my absolute favorite things to eat was the Shish Kebab sandwich served at a small hole-in-the-wall Armenian restaurant named Hagopians. The only other place that served this sandwich was The Vintage Press. In 1999, I was visiting the area and found out Hagopians had closed and the Vintage Press no longer served the sandwich. I explained my “dire” situation to David and after much begging, he told me to come in the next day. (Saturday) between lunch and dinner hours. He fixed a shish kebab sandwich for me! I sat on their patio and savored every. single. bite. If I remember correctly, it took a couple of hours (if you’ve ever had one of these sandwiches, they are not small). All these years later, I have come very close to replicating the lamb and the finely chopped parsley/onion sprinkled on top. However, I cannot find the bread! The closest I’ve been able to guess is the bread used for a Muffaletta.

    I’ve done google searches (which is how I came across your website) and when I saw the name David Vartanian, I knew I had to try! Would you PLEASE ask him what the bread was that both he and Hagopians used for those sandwiches? I know it was a large round loaf because each sandwich was a triangle cut-quarter of the loaf, If ANYBODY knows where I can get the bread , please, please, please let me know! I’m ready to try a lot of these recipes here and I’m really glad I stumbled across your website. Also … YAY Vintage Press. I sincerely hope you are doing well through this pandemic. I wish I could visit but I’m in Texas now and traveling isn’t happening too soon.
    Thank you!!

    1. Robyn Kalajian February 16, 2021 at 10:06 am

      Hi Penny, What a great Shish Kebab sandwich story! Aside from calling the restaurant (559-733-3033) during their business hours, I couldn’t find a way to email them to ask. Your best bet is to call them. I’m sure someone will be able to answer your bread question. If you do find out, would you be kind enough to let us know what the answer is? Thanks!


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