Belgian endive. Are you familiar with it? I love to slice it and add it to salads. It’s crispy and has a very slight bitter taste and is a nice counterpoint to the other greens in your salad bowl. Have you used it as an hors d’oeuvres? The leaves are the perfect vessel to fill with a savory topping-like an herby cheese spread or fresh crab salad. I’ve been a fan for a long time, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I actually cooked endive and I have to tell you that it was wonderful!
Once again I found a great recipe in one of Domenica Marchetti’s books-The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy. I love this book and while I’m thinking of it, I have to mention her second book-Big Night In– which is equally as informative and chock full of recipes that you’ll want to try.
I was looking for something not too heavy, but packed with flavor to serve at my recent luncheon. I had already decided on an Italian chicken soup with meatballs and escarole and wanted to serve a little something along with some crusty bread. This recipe caught my eye and all I can say is that I wish I had more endive in the fridge because if I did, I’d make it again tonight!
Indiva Brasata Al Forno
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for preparing the dish
6 heads Belgian endive
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 rib celery, trimmed and finely chopped
2 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup canned whole tomatoes, diced
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a rectangular baking dish large enough to hold the endive in one layer.
Trim the stem end off each endive and discard any soft or discolored outer leaves. Cut each endive in half lengthwise. In a large skillet heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. When the butter has melted and begins to sizzle, add the endive halves, cut side down and brown for 4 minutes. Turn and brown the other side for 4 minutes and then transfer endive to the prepared dish.
Return the skillet to medium heat and add the carrot, celery and pancetta and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the pancetta has rendered its fat and the vegetables have begun to soften. In a small bowl mix together the garlic and salt to form a paste and add to the vegetables. Season the vegetables with pepper and continue to saute for a few minutes more. Increase the heat to medium-high and pour in the wine. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the endive in the baking dish.
Cover the dish with foil, place in the oven and braise for one hour. Uncover, sprinkle evenly with the cheese and cook for another 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
Makes: 6 side dish servings
I have to say that this really delicious and my friends L. And V. remarked how great it would be served as a sandwich on crusty bread-it was sort of reminiscent of eggplant parmesan!
This photo does not do justice to the greatness of this dish!