Some people bid on auctions to win things like cars or diamond jewelry; I recently bid on an auction to win a year’s supply of endive from the California endive growers (hey, it was for a good cause!). And I won. So for the next year, in three-month intervals, I will have a LOT of endive on hand.
Actually, I love endive. These perky little heads have a nice crisp texture and a very mild flavor. They are incredibly versatile, whether you eat them raw or cook them. And the word is fun to say: on-DEEV. Yes, the vegetable we’re talking about is also known as Belgian endive and it’s pronounced en-DEEV. It is a member of the chicory family and it has whitish leaves, due to the fact that its final growth takes place in the dark. The other endive, the one that’s pronounced EN-dive, is also a member of the chicory family but it has curly green leaves (and is sometimes called curly endive).
We’ve eaten a lot of endive in the Jolly Tomato household so far, so I thought I’d share some of our favorite ways to eat it.
2 heads Belgian endive
6 ounces whipped cream cheese
4 large dates, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Wash the endive heads and pat them dry. Gently remove the leaves, one at a time, taking care not to break them. Arrange the leaves on a platter. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, dates, and cardamom. Carefully spoon about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese mixture onto each leaf. Garnish each leaf with a few crumbles of bacon. Serve immediately, or chill until serving. Serves 6 to 10.
2. Braise it! This is the time of year for comfort food, and braised endive is a great way to warm your spirits. Discover Endive has a very simple recipe for braised endive, and it is easy to adapt to your personal tastes. We braised our in chicken stock and then topped it with pine nuts and grated Swiss.
3. Chop it! Winter foods can get so drab; sometimes you need something bright and crispy as a pick-me-up. This salad is tasty and is a nice break from the ordinary:
2 heads purple endive
2 large navel oranges
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 tsp. rice vinegar
Chop the endive crosswise (into discs) and divide. Peel and slice the oranges, and separate the segments into triangle-shaped pieces. Distribute the endive, oranges, and red onions among four salad plates. Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, and rice vinegar until well-mixed. Drizzle the dressing over each salad. Serve immediately, or chill until serving. Serve 4.
4. Make it into pirate ships! OK, this probably isn’t on the growers’ association’s approved list of recipes, but it’s a kid favorite in our house nonetheless. These pirate “ships” are filled with tuna salad and trimmed with pretzel sticks. Depending on your kids’ tastes, you can change the endive into Cinderella carriages, Santa sleighs, or bunny ears. Because let’s face it, after a while you start seeing uses for endive everywhere you look.