Using up Belgian endives

We have a veg-box subscription. This means that there’s a very cool farmer coming by every wednesday, leaving a variety of organic vegetables on our doorstep. And the wednesday after that, and after that, you get the picture. And we’re just 2,5 (well, regarding vegetables, my son counts for less than 0,5, so more 2,1) in our house, so finishing all those veggies can be a challenge.

One of the ‘problem’ veggies has always been Belgian endives. Or chicory. Or witlof as we call it in Dutch. I’ll leave the explaining to wikipedia:

Belgian endive is also known as French endivewitlof in Dutch or witloof in Belgian Dutch, witloof in the United States[citation needed]chicory in the UK, as witloff in Australia,endive in France, and chicon in parts of northern France and in Wallonia. It has a small head of cream-coloured, bitter leaves. It is grown completely underground or indoors in the absence of sunlight in order to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up (etiolation). The plant has to be kept just below the soil surface as it grows, only showing the very tip of the leaves.

This stuff:

Witlof, chicory, belgian endives, witloof, or what ever you call it in your language

The culprit

Anyway. It’s one of those vegetables that I’ll use up later. And come tuesday evening, it’s still there. I’ll stop the rambling here, because there’s good news. I made a simple dish last night, that was incredible. And I made some more for lunch this afternoon. And all the endives are now finished (oh, and the new veg-box arrived this morning). The recipe:

Griddled endives salad – Ottolenghi stylee

Ingredients:

  • endives (obviously)
  • olives
  • capers
  • juice of half a lemon
  • some nice vinegar
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • salt, pepper, sugar

The method:

Start by heating a grill-pan (I use this one, love it to bits) to very hot. This will take around 5 minutes or so. Clean up the endives a bit (they’ve been in your fridge for too long, so make’m look good), then slice them in half, and remove the scruffy bit of the stalk. Make sure the leaves are still connected. Put them in the bowl you’ll serve them in later, and drizzle them with some olive oil (a tablespoon or 2 will do). Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a tiny bit of sugar and leave them until you’re ready to grill

For the dressing, mix up the olives, capers, juice from the lemon and vinegar together until it’s a rough paste. On a board, chop the garlic finely, then add a pinch of salt and mush it into a paste with the flat of your knife. The salt crystals help to destroy the cells, making sure you don’t have any bits of raw garlic in your salad.

The grill-pan should be very hot by now. Put the halved heads of endive onto the grill until they are cooked al-dente, turning at least twice (I turn them 90 degrees halfway through, so that they get a nice pattern). In the mean time, finish the dressing by mixing up the olive paste and the garlic, and put it in the bowl you used for marinating the endives.

Put the flaming hot grilled endives into the dressing, and mix well. This way the dressing will mingle with the endive-juices, and cook the raw garlic that was in the dressing. After a minute or two, it’s ready to serve. You could also leave it to cool to room temperature; it’s still really good.

No picture of the finished dish, unfortunately. It was finished before I got the camera out. Twice.

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About Richard

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2 Responses to Using up Belgian endives

  1. we eat endives a lot down here (in languedoc), just grilled with a little olive oil and some blue cheese melted on the top. simple but very satisfying.

  2. Hi Louise, thanks for the tip! I found that the bitterness is sort of complimented by the grilling, and I’m guessing the melted blue cheese will do something similar? And add some acidity too. Hmm; I’ll have to try that!
    In The Netherlands endives are usually boiled first, I think that’s what’s put most people off.

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