A member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole, and curly endive, endive (pronounced “on-dev”) is sometimes called the queen of vegetables and is prized the world over. It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness.
Always in Season
Whether you use red or white – or a combination, which always looks especially pretty – the small, slim heads have a natural elegance. They’re available year-round at most major supermarkets, and are grown by California Vegetable Specialties, the only U.S. producer of Belgian-style endive and the largest producer of red endive in the world.
When shopping for endive, look for smooth, plump, crisp, firm heads that are as pale as possible. Once you get it home, store endive wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag. It’ll last that way in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator for ten to fourteen days – much longer than other lettuces.
The Slimmer Dipper – Just One Calorie Per Leaf
Once you’re ready to use endive, there’s no need to wash it. Just cut the heads crosswise to use in salads. But why stop there? Raw endive also makes a great dipper – use whole leaves for scooping or for filling with spreads and toppings. It’s not only more elegant than chips or crackers, but at only one calorie per leaf, it’s healthier, too.
Perhaps the most versatile member of the lettuce family, endive can also be cooked. Its delicious sautéed, braised, baked, and even grilled. Try halving heads lengthwise, brushing with your favorite salad dressing, and then broiling until lightly browned. A delightfully sophisticated side dish couldn’t be simpler.
Beside being low in calories, endive is rich in vitamins A, B, C and K. It’s also high in fiber and a good source of both beta-carotene and potassium. Better still, endive is a wonderfully affordable way to treat your guests to something special over the holidays. Pound for pound, it’s less expensive than most bagged salads and crackers.
So add it to a salad. Use it as a slimmer dipper. Sauté, bake, braise, or broil it. You can use it so many ways – just use it. Your guests will feel indulged, and you’ll get to provide that feeling simply and easily, thanks to beautiful little heads of elegant endive.
Makes 16 to 20
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 firm-ripe red or green pear, cored and cut into ¼ -inch dice
3 slices prosciutto or ham (about 1 ½ ounces), cut into ¼-inch dice
½ cup crumbled goat cheese
1 large heads endive (about 8 ounces), one white and one red
2 large heads endive (about 8 ounces), one white and one red
16 to 20 leaves fresh flat-leaf parsley
In medium bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, and cloves. Add pears, prosciutto, cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Trim 1/2 -inch from the stem end of the endive and remove the outer leaves. When no more leaves can be removed, trim another ½-inch from the stem and continue to remove leaves. Keep going until all the leaves are removed (you should have 16 to 20)
Arrange endive leaves on plates or platter. Fill base of each leaf with a generous tablespoon of pear mixture. Top each with a parsley leaf and serve.
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