Nutritious and crisp, endive has become a frequent addition to most salads. Its lively crunch brings a certain color that is as aesthetically beautiful as it is delicious. As delicious as it is when served fresh, however, endive also goes well in warm meals and appetizers.
One delightful Belgian recipe calls for the endive leaves to be braised in grapefruit juice and apple cider vinegar. Normally crisp and a bit bitter, the small endive leaves and hearts lose their harsh edge once they’re braised, giving way to a sweeter, milder flavor that still manages to maintain its unique, earthy complexity. The dish is then livened up with the tart flavor of fresh citrus and sweetened with a touch of golden honey. Small pieces of salty pancetta give the appetizer a nice balance without overloading it with the heaviness often found in such flavorful side dishes.
The dish is designed to yield 20 small portions. It is soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and wheat-free and only takes 25 minutes to prepare.
2 tbsp. honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small grapefruit; zested and juiced
1 tbsp. peeled, grated gingerroot
1/4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
1 tbsp. kosher salt
5 white endive hearts (inner portion of the endive containing the smaller leaves and core)
1/2 cup minced pancetta
1 tbsp. olive oil
Citrus segments (optional)
Chopped fresh herbs (optional)
In a small bowl, combine the honey, garlic, juice, grapefruit zest, ginger and vinegar. Whisk the ingredients together and then set them aside. In a large skillet, bring the water and salt to a boil over a high heat. Add the endive hearts and allow them to cook for 3 minutes. Drain them and slice the endives into ½ inch rounds (about 4 pieces per endive). Dry the skillet and crisp the pancetta over medium-high heat (this should take about 6 minutes). Add the olive oil and the endive rounds. Cook everything for 3 minutes on each side (or until the endives are caramelized). Remove the endives and set them aside. Add the honey mixture to the pan and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook it for 3 more minutes (or until it thickens). Season this with salt and pepper and return the endive to the pan. Coat it with the sauce. Place the endive rounds on individual serving spoons and drizzle them with the pan sauce. Garnish them with citrus segments and fresh herbs. These should be served warm.
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