De-Stress the Holidays with California Endive

Home entertaining peaks at holiday time, and stress spikes along with it.

But that was last year. This year, implement a new strategy. Start stockpiling festive recipes that rely more on your flair than your time, such as anything made with the fashionable and elegant endive. Both white and red varieties make an immediate style statement and can take you from Thanksgiving through New Year’s with minimal effort. Endive (say on-deev) can help you keep a lid on holiday calories, too. At only one calorie per spear, endive is truly the “slimmer dipper,” a more wholesome choice than crackers or salty chips.

A versatile vegetable developed in Belgium (but now California grown), endive can come to the table either hot or cold. Crisp and refreshing when sliced raw in salads with candied walnuts and ruby beets, the shapely heads also bake to perfection. Braise them with broth, cream, and mustard for a side dish worthy of your Thanksgiving turkey or a holiday roast. For a cocktail party, the curvaceous spears can cradle any filling or scoop any dip, from a creamy feta spread to a spicy shrimp salad.

Endive may have a glamorous aura but it’s a remarkably practical choice: less expensive pound-for-pound than most bagged salad mixes; longer lasting (up to 14 days if kept in moist paper towels in a plastic bag); and all but effortless. You don’t even need to wash it or spin it dry; just slice the heads crosswise for salads, discarding the core, or braise the plump heads whole. Its captivating bittersweet flavor has made endive a European favorite, a complement to apples, pears, and nuts, smoked fish, and roast meats.

All week we’ll be offering fabulous recipes that add the delicious to your holiday entertaining, while steering clear of added stress. First up, Endive with Roasted Red Pepper Feta Spread!

Endive with Roasted Red Pepper Feta Spread

Makes 1 1/3 cups spread, to serve 8
1/2 pound Greek or French feta, in small chunks
1/2 large roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or more if needed
2 dozen white and red endive spears for dipping
Fresh dill sprigs, for garnish
Kalamata olives, for garnish

Put feta, bell pepper and garlic in food processor and blend, adding just as much olive oil as needed to make a smooth puree. Transfer spread to serving platter or bowl and surround with endive spears. Garnish with dill sprigs and olives.

For more holiday entertaining ideas, visit the Discover Endive website.

 

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