Monday, December 3, 2012

Endive Three Ways

Full of B vitamins and calcium, iron and phosphorus and just enough selenium to be beneficial rather than toxic, the Belgian endive is a popular vegetable here in France, and because of that popularity it's very inexpensive. I seem to remember it selling for about $5/pound at New Seasons, or about a dollar a head, maybe more? At the supermarket here I buy bags of a dozen for about 2 euros. Of course, then I have to figure out what to do with a dozen heads of endive. With the drop in temperature I've been craving soups and casseroles, so that's what I did with most of them.

Leek and Endive Soup

2 Tbs olive oil
2 large leeks, white and pale green parts thinly sliced
4 heads Belgian endive, thinly sliced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup plain soy milk
1 heaping Tbs cornstarch

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot and sauté the leeks until they start to soften, then add the endive. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring a few times, until the endive wilts and starts to brown. Add the broth, cover the pot, and simmer for half an hour. Whisk the soy milk and cornstarch together, then slowly stir the mixture into the broth. Continue to cook over medium heat while stirring until the soup is hot and the broth slightly thickened. Add salt to taste (will depend on the broth you used).

Baked Endives With Mushroom-Leek Sauce

5 Tbs olive oil
3 large leeks, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
4 Tbs cornstarch
4 cups soy milk
1-1/2 tsp of Hildegarde's salt/herb blend
lots of freshly-ground pepper
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
6 Belgian endive, cored and halved
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Heat 2 Tbs of the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the leeks and mushrooms until soft and slightly browned.

While the vegetables are cooking, make a béchamel. Heat 2 Tbs of the olive oil in a heavy pot, then add the cornstarch and cook over medium-low heat while stirring constantly for five minutes. Add the soy milk little by little, and keep stirring; use a whisk to break up any lumps. Add the salt and herbs and continue to cook until the sauce is smooth and thick. Pour the sauce into the skillet with the sautéed vegetables and turn off the heat under the skillet. Mix well and taste for seasoning. Stir in the chopped parsley.

Coat the bottom of a large casserole with the last tablespoon of olive oil and fit the halved endives into it, cut side down, in one layer. Cover the endive with the mushroom-leek sauce and top with the breadcrumbs. Cover the casserole with foil. Bake for half an hour, remove the foil, then bake for another half an hour, or until the endives are tender, the sauce is bubbling, and the breadcrumbs are browned.

Endive, Tomato, and Mâche Salad With Lapin en Gelée*

2 Belgian endive, bottom halves thinly sliced and tender tops separated into leaves
1 big handful of mâche, roughly chopped, sprigs reserved for garnish
2 fresh tomatoes, sliced
one small container of prepared lapin en gelée (spiced shredded rabbit in aspic)
1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs mayonnaise

Mix the chopped endive and mâche together and make a bed of the greens on a plate. Arrange the endive leaves and tomatoes in a pleasing pattern and top with the lapin en gelée. Garnish with the reserved mâche, attempt to take an artsy photo to bolster your food-blogger image, and serve drizzled with the balsamic mayonnaise dressing, which isn't very aesthetically pleasing (hence the lack of the "after" photograph) but is quite delicious.

* Note: This recipe may not be possible if Le Colombier does not make weekly deliveries in your area.

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