Take the Bitter with the Sweet

By Sandy Hu
The latest from Inside Special Fork

I’ve been to an endive farm and I’ve seen how they’re cultivated. But I hadn’t noticed that an endive, while still attached to its chicory root base, looks like a French tulip.

Whoever saw that similarity was brilliant. And whoever gathered them into a bouquet to gift food writers at Valentine’s Day was inspired.

Once again, a few days before February 14, I received such a bouquet from California Endive Farms to remind me how much I love these crisp vegetables, with their nutty, sweet flavor and slightly bitter edge. I lopped off the chicory root to toss, and bagged my treasured heads of endive in plastic, thinking about the delectable possibilities…

I could:

  • Slice them crosswise and combine with slices of apple or pear, a crumble of blue cheese or feta, a sprinkling of toasted walnuts or pecans, and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Separate the leaves and use them as an elegant carrier for a bit of smoked salmon or trout spread, spooned on the base of each leaf, for a simple hors d’oeuvre.
  • Use it in place of lettuce to add lovely crunch to sandwiches.
  • Grill halves or stir-fry cut pieces.
I did indeed do some of the above, but what I enjoyed most was roasting the endives. While combining endives with fruit and sweet salad dressings minimizes their mild bitterness, roasting enhances it – which is a flavor I love.

Roasted Endives
4 large red or white endives (4 or 5 ounces each)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim off a thin slice from the stem end of the endives, but do not cut off stem completely. Halve endives lengthwise. Arrange on a shallow roasting pan, cut sides up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast about 20 minutes, turning endives over halfway during roasting. Endives are done when a knife pierces easily in the thickest part of the stem.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6.

Tips:

  • To gild the lily, sprinkle each endive half with a tablespoon of shredded Jarlsberg or Gruyere cheese before roasting; do not turn during roasting.
  • For a salad, drizzle roasted endives with a balsamic vinaigrette made from one part balsamic vinegar to three parts extra virgin olive oil; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • If you have leftovers, incorporate roasted endive leaves into a grilled cheese sandwich, or chop and add to a salad.
In the winter, roasting is an excellent way to cook vegetables, keeping the kitchen warm and cozy. The high oven temperature also helps to caramelize the natural sugars in vegetables and intensifies their flavors.

Here are other roasted vegetable recipes from our Special Fork recipe database:

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Related posts:

  1. Winter Salads
  2. The Sweet Spot for Sweet Cherries
  3. A Visit to an Endive Farm
  4. The Roasted Root of Things
  5. You Say Sweet Potato…

Posted: Feb 19th by Sandy_Hu