Baked White Fish With Endive, Leeks and Tarragon

High Plains Midwest Journal

Resolving to eat better doesn’t have to condemn you to a diet of lettuce and celery sticks. To make that healthy-eating resolution stick, think about the pleasures you can add to your menus, not about the temptations you need to avoid. Serving endive (pronounced “on-deev”) makes a meal seem like a special occasion, yet this prized member of the chicory family contributes only one calorie per leaf. That’s a smart way to indulge.

You probably already know that endive leaves make elegant dippers–a low-calorie and fat-free alternative to chips. And maybe you have sliced some endive into a salad to dress it up. It pairs beautifully with nuts and cool-weather fruits such as apples, pears and persimmons.

Great cooked

But endive also shines in cooked dishes. Braised or baked, it’s a favorite in France, although French cooks tend to blanket it with cream or bachamel sauce. It doesn’t need such rich treatment. Use sautaed endive and leeks as a bed for lean baked fish. Broil halved endives with olive oil and drizzle with a homemade Caesar-style dressing. Slow-braise whole endives with fragrant fresh thyme as a potato replacement alongside roast chicken. With endive on the menu, eating healthfully means eating well.

At the market

When shopping for endive, look for plump, pale, blemish-free heads. Red endive tends to be smaller than the white variety, but the two taste the same, so you can use them interchangeably–or mix it up–in recipes. At home, store endive in your refrigerator’s vegetable crisper, wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag. It will last for 10 to 14 days, much longer than other lettuces


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
6 cups thinly sliced leeks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 California endives, halved lengthwise and cored
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
6 white fish fillets, 5 to 6 ounces each
2 tablespoons chopped parsley


Preheat oven to 425 F. In ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven wide enough to hold the white fish in one layer, warm butter and olive oil over moderate heat.

Add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Stir well, then cover, reduce to moderately low and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks have softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Do not let them brown.

Cut endive halves crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide pieces. Stir endive and tarragon into skillet, season with more salt and pepper, cover and continue cooking until endive has softened slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Season halibut fillets on both sides with salt and pepper.

Arrange them on the bed of vegetables and transfer skillet to the oven, uncovered. Bake until fish just flakes, 10 to 12 minutes. Divide vegetables and fish among 6 dinner plates. Top fish with a generous drizzle of olive oil and garnish with parsley. Serve hot. Serves 6.

California Endive
15 Poppy House Road
Rio Vista, California 94571
Phone 707-374-2111
Fax 707-374-2063


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