Endive Spears filled with Goat Cheese and Fresh Cherry Relish

This post originally appeared on Table Talk, written by Debi Shawcross, and is reprinted here with her permission. Please visit her blog for more inspiring recipes, cooking tips and entertaining ideas.

Endive spears filled with fresh cherry salsa

This past weekend we were invited to our friends’ house for a casual summertime dinner party. When I asked what I could bring, our hostess said “How about an hors d’oeuvre? I think I’m making lobster rolls for our entree, and going with a kind of picnic theme.”

My ears perked up when I heard “lobster”, which is my favorite thing to eat in the whole world.  Lobster chilled, tossed with a  lemon aioli, and sandwiched into a lightly buttered,  toasted New England style roll is one of the best ways to enjoy lobster on a 90 degree summer night as far as I’m concerned.

I was excited about seeing our friends after being away for most of the summer, and excited for the lobster rolls. Now what to bring?

Something that was assembled, and ready to go when I arrived was at the top of the criteria, and knowing it would be a warm night, I wanted something that could be served chilled, or at room temperature. What flavors would complement the sweet, succulent lobster? How about smoky, salty pancetta? That’s always a good thing, and also happened to be the first flavor that came to mind, as I thought of a filling I could spoon into  Belgian endive spears.

So here’s what I came up with: Endive spears filled with a bit of chive goat cheese, and topped with a fresh cherry relish made with pancetta, arugula, and hazelnuts.  A balance of sweet, salty , and tangy, rounded out with some of that butternut squash seed oil that I fell in love with in the Beef Tenderloin Rolls filled with Arugula and Crispy Leeks I made a few weeks ago.

The relish and goat cheese worked really well  served together in the cool endive spears (they disappeared off of the tray pretty fast!) I think the relish  would also be a fine addition  to  grilled chicken, lamb, or duck, and plan to try it that way soon.

And the lobster rolls? They were fantastic.

Endive Spears Filled with Goat Cheese and Fresh Cherry Relish

Endive Spears Filled with Goat Cheese and Fresh Cherry Relish

Endive Spears filled with Goat Cheese and Fresh Cherry Relish

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped

1 cup (about 5-6 ounces) pitted cherries, finely chopped

1/2 cup arugula, cut into a chiffonade

1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

1/4 teaspoon fig balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon butternut squash seed oil (or extra virgin olive oil)

Salt and pepper to taste

8 ounces goat cheese (I used chive flavored)

4 large heads Belgian endive, trimmed, leaves separated

Heat olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium high heat. Add pancetta and saute, stirring frequently, until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towel lined plate.

Transfer pancetta to a medium bowl and add add next 5 ingredients, stirring thoroughly to combine. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon into the bottom of an endive spear. Top with an equal amount of cherry relish. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Makes 36-40 spears.

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