This Belgian endive salad recipe makes a nice break from the usual lettuce and marries well with other winter foods. Endive is a fairly popular ingredient in French recipes, and it is worth learning how to prepare and enjoy this vegetable.
I was stumped by Belgian endive for a long time. The grocery store here in France sells stacks and stacks of the stuff, but I couldn't see much use for such a pale looking fellow. It didn't help that my attempts at making the ever so popular family dish of baked endive wrapped in ham were complete flops - the pale fellows turned soupy, grey, and bitter in my oven.
Now that I've discovered endive salads, I have made my peace with the pale fellows. They have a lovely crunch and come to find out they also contain a fair amount of nutrition to brighten our winter days
(fiber, vitamin A, potassium, vitamin C, folate, and some iron). Endive makes a great start to lots of easy salad recipes.
For me, the secret to finally enjoying this vegetable was figuring out how to get rid of the bitter inner core. All the instructions I saw said to use a paring knife to cut a cone out of the bottom of the endive.
But I tell you, this didn't work for me - I could never really remove the bitter part.
So I developed my own technique. Here's how I do it when preparing an endive salad recipe . . .
Slice a good 3/4 inch off the bottom of the endive. (If you look at where you've sliced, you'll see little pearls of ooze - that's the bitter stuff.)
Let the outer leaves fall away and toss them.
Let the rest of the leaves fall away and save these.
Once they no longer fall away, it's time to slice another 1/2 inch off the bottom.
Once again gather the leaves that fall away and save them.
Depending on how large the endive is, you may want to slice and gather one last time.
In the end you will have a core of very small leaves and the remaining bitter part. Toss all this.
Prepare the endive by removing the core as described above. Slice in small pieces.
Place the endive, orange pieces, and raisins in a salad bowl.
Prepare a vinaigrette with the juice of the lemon, olive oil, minced onion and salt and pepper. Pour the vinaigrette on the salad and toss.
Endive Salad Recipe Variations
Here are some more ideas, but don't stop with my suggestions - I bet you can come up with your own tasty combination.
Endives et pamplemousse: French cooking expert Richard Grausman recommends combining the bitter of endive with the bitter of pink grapefruit. Apparently the two bitters cancel each other out. This certainly sounds worth trying, and just imagine the boost for your immune system! Find the recipe in his cookbook French Classics Made Easy.
Endives aux betteraves: Add sliced red beets, hard boiled eggs, Beaufort cheese (or other flavorful semi-firm white cheese), and chopped chives. Toss with a dressing made from crème fraîche, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Endives au chou-rouge: Add shredded red cabbage. Rub a salad bowl with a piece of peeled garlic. Toss the vegetables with vinaigrette or mayonnaise.
Endives aux pommes: Add chopped apples and walnuts. Toss with vinaigrette.
Other ingredients to try with Belgian endive include blue cheese, smoked salmon, pears, and pine nuts.
By the way, endive leaves were made for dipping. Offer them along with the usual carrot and celery sticks the next time you serve a dip.
When selecting endive, look for pale, compact, and crisp heads. Store it in the refrigerator, wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a plastic bag. Endive turns bitter the longer it sits around, so try to use it quickly when making
this endive salad recipe.
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