In the following recipe, when marinated in the olive oil and white wine vinegar, the sweet and earthy flavor of shredded beets and carrots take on a slightly tart flavor that pairs well with the delicate anise taste of fennel. Full of the intense colors of deep beet-purple and the bright orange of the carrots, the mixture harmonizes well with the crisp and refreshing California Endive.
A note on picking out the fennel:
For the fennel, make sure that the bulbs are clean and crisp and don’t show any signs of browning. If there is still greenery attached, it should be a fresh green color.
A note on handling the beets:
If you value your clothes and possessions and you would like to keep them (and your hands) from becoming a rich, purple color, use rubber gloves when working with the beets. Beet dye is actually used as a coloring agent because it stains.
This recipe is designed to make 36 “boats.”
1 small fresh beet (about 3 ounces)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 medium carrot, peeled
1/2 (about 8 ounces) bulb fennel, trimmed
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 pounds (5 large heads) Belgian endive
2 tablespoons salmon roe (optional)
2 teaspoons chopped chervil leaves
Place beet and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in a saucepan of water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; boil until beet is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and peel beet; grate on large holes on a box grater, and place in a bowl. Grate carrot; add to beets.
Cut fennel into very thin 1/2-inch-long slivers; add to beets and carrots.
Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss with vegetables. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Trim endive, separating leaves. Reserve large leaves for another use. Fill lower half of small leaves with 1 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable mixture. Top with 1/8 teaspoon salmon roe, if using; garnish with chervil.
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