roasted endive salad
Admittedly, this salad may be trying a little too hard (or perhaps I’ve been watching too much Top Chef).  In any case, if you’re looking for a sophisticated, unique way to start off a dinner party, this is just the trick.  The key to this dish is balance.  Endive is naturally very bitter, but is offset by drizzling honey over the whole plate.  The figs and pistachios add texture, and the fried prosciutto… well, who doesn’t love crispy pork?

Makes: 4 fancy “salads”
Total kitchen time: 30 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 6 heads of endive (green, red or both)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (an infused oil, such as roasted garlic olive oil, works great here)
  • 2 slices prosciutto
  • 1 cup dried figs, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts, shells removed
  • 1/4 cup organic honey
  1. Preheat your oven (*ding, this is a great toaster oven candidate) to 350°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Wash the endive and remove any unsightly outer leaves.  Slice each endive head in half from the stem to the tip.  Arrange the endive cut side up on the foil-lined baking sheet.  Coat the endive generously with olive oil.  Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until the outer edges are golden brown.
  3. Meanwhile, fry the prosciutto in a skillet until crispy.  Drain onto paper towels, then crumble the prosciutto and set it aside.
  4. When the endive is done roasting, arrange three pieces on a plate alongside a handful of sliced dried figs and pistachio nuts.  Drizzle a spoonful of honey over the plate, then sprinkle the endive with about 1/4th of the crumbled prosciutto.

If sliced figs and pistachios don’t suit your dinner crowd, you can always drown the plate in blue cheese ;-) 

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endive with salmon
Admittedly, this is probably not a recipe that you’ll bring to your next block party (depending on the block).  Nor will you see this dish arranged on a paper plate alongside baked beans and an Oscar Meyer Wiener.  Nope, this is a different kind of grill fare, made for epicurean ambassadors of outdoor cooking who aren’t afraid to cook a beurre blanc over the coals of a kettle grill.  If your next outdoor party calls for something a little more delicate than frozen burgers, give this recipe a shot.

Makes: 6 elegant endive bites
Total kitchen time: 40 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 3 heads of Belgan Endive (or try Escarole)
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped lemongrass
  • 3 tbsp. champagne (or sweet white wine)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/4 lb. smoked salmon
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat your grill over low heat.  If your grill has multiple zones, set the front zone to medium high and leave the back zone off.  You can also make this recipe in the oven, but you’ll miss all the sunshine flavor.
  2. Slice each head on endive lengthwise and coat all sides with olive oil.  Lightly salt both sides of the endive. 
  3. Place the endive, round side down, on the cool area of your grill and close the lid.  Grill, turning once, for 15 minutes per side.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add the lemongrass and sweat it for 1-2 minutes over medium heat.  Add the champagne or wine and boil for another 1-2 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency.  Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Working 1 tsp. at a time, add the cold butter while constantly whisking.  The butter should not melt right away and at no point should it start to bubble.  Wait until each tsp. of butter is completely absorbed until you add the next one.  If the butter stops melting in to the sauce, put the pan over low heat for just a moment.  Just don’t stop whisking!  Once the butter is completely added, your sauce is done. 
  6. Crumble some of the smoked salmon over the cut side of the endive and top with a small amount of the beurre blanc.  Season with a sprinkling of sea salt, to taste.

These elegant treats are sure to turn heads at your next back yard party.  They pair very well with dry white wine, or white wine sangria.  So, don your finest linen pants and get eating!

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