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City Palate Recipe: 3 quick ways with green beans

4 Quick Ways with Belgian Endive

May/Jun 2009
The refreshingly bitter flavour and substantial crunchy texture of this chicory combines well with rich foods – such as nuts, cheeses and smoked fish – in salads. But salad isn’t all Belgian endive does well. The same qualities lend themselves beautifully to cooked dishes.

1. Braised Belgian Endive

From Contorni by Susan Simon

Remove and discard the outer leaves from 6 medium-large Belgian endives. Cut them in half lengthwise. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled, in 1/3 c. olive oil to flavour the oil. Add the endive and stir to coat with oil. Add ¼ c. coarsely chopped pitted black olives, 2 c. tomato purée, ½ t. salt and 2 t. dried oregano. Stir to combine, lower the heat, cover, and cook, spooning the sauce over the endives, until they are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the garlic and sprinkle with 1 T. toasted pine nuts. Serves 6.

2. Apple & Endive Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
Adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Separate the leaves from 5 medium-large Belgian endives. Core and slice into matchsticks 3 tasty apples. Put endive and apples into a large bowl.  Add most of a handful of fresh herbs, such as mint, tarragon, basil or parsley (or a combination), chopped or torn. Make a creamy blue cheese dressing: blend together until smooth 2 oz. blue cheese, like stilton or roquefort, ¼ c. crème fraîche, 5 T. extra virgin olive oil, 4 T. cider vinegar and 6 T. water. Pour ¾ of the dressing on the salad and toss gently so as not to break up the endive and apples. Divide onto 4 plates, drizzle with more dressing, sprinkle with remaining herbs and garnish with a handful of toasted walnuts. Serves 4.

3. Belgian Endive Risotto with Walnuts
Adapted from a Chez Panisse Vegetables recipe

Trim 6 Belgian endives, slice in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ½-inch slices. Heat 8 cups chicken stock. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and sauté 1 onion, chopped, until translucent. Stir in 1 1/4 cups arborio rice and a pinch of salt until the rice is coated with oil. Add a ladle or two of stock and stir until stock is absorbed, then add another ladle or two. Keep stirring and adding stock in the same way until the rice is cooked but still slightly firm in the centre. Stir in the endive and 2 tablespoons butter and continue to cook 3 to 5 minutes. The risotto should be slightly creamy. Just before serving, add a handful of toasted, chopped walnuts and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Serves 6.

4. Braised Belgian Endive Gratin

From Gourmet, October 1990

Halve lengthwise 8 Belgian endives and put them in a heavy-bottom pan, in two layers, cut-side-down. Sprinkle on 1 1/2 T. lemon juice, 3 tablespoons butter, cut into bits, ½ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons sugar and pour over ¾ cup chicken broth. Cover, bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook the endives for 20 to 30 minutes until they are very tender. Carefully transfer them to a buttered gratin dish large enough to hold them in one layer.  In a bowl, stir together 3/4 cup finely grated gruyère cheese and 1 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the endives and broil the gratin until the topping is golden and the cheese is melted. Serves 6 to 8.