Baked Belgium Endive With Topped Gremolata
This is the last Recipe ReDux recipe for 2016 and (as usual) I like to use this monthly theme challenge to bring a French (or Italian) touch to your meal inspirations. By luck because I had 3 kilos of endives in the fridge that I didn’t know what to do with, I tweaked a baked Belgium endive dish using this month’s theme of Grab a Book and Cook from The Recipe ReDux.
We’re playing a little party game at the end of 2016: Grab your nearest cookbook and ReDux the recipe on page 201, 16, 216 – or any combination of the number ‘2016.’
I grabbed one of my favorite cookbooks from Chef Jamie Oliver, the second cookbook from his start as ‘The Naked Chef.’ Here is my very used copy:
(you can get yours here-It is a fabulous cookbook The Return of the Naked Chef).
And when I opened up the cookbook to page 201, I found this recipe for Baked Endive with thyme, orange juice, garlic and butter. I make notes in my cookbooks and as you can see I made this in 2003 and said it was ‘very very good, different and yummy.’ Back then I had just half the crew, only 2 toddlers and they wouldn’t have eaten this. Now 13 years later I still have a hard time to convince my kids to like endive. This is because of the bitter taste which I enjoy, but my kids do not. However I now ‘cut out’ the core part of the vegetable making the taste less bitter (read below at end of article for tips to reduce bitter taste in chicory vegetables). So, if you make this dish it might not be young kids friendly, let me know how it turns out.
Belgium endives are a cool season vegetable and are abundant here now in France. I buy a kilogram (about 2 pounds) for 2 euros (about 2 dollars) and put these crisp raw leaves in salads, serve them with aperitif adding a creamy filling or occasionally cook them as a side dish for meats. Our guinea pigs, Fuzzy and Skittles, also love the taste of endives! These last fresh in a cold environment for a long week or two. And it was, according to this legend, that a Belgium man discovered endives when he left his chicory bulbs in his cellar and came back to find these yellow leaves. Nutritionally, adding endives to your eating agenda is a wise idea; they are full of vitamin A (two cups give almost half of the recommended daily requirements), folate and manganese.
The final touch to the this recipe is my own, adding an Italian typically Milan cuisine topping. I added a gremolata (a parsley melange often added to osso bucco milanese) to the endives just as they came out of the oven. This addition made the dish even better (Sorry Jamie !)
Baked Belgium Endive with Gremolata Topping
Ingredients for 4 adults:
- 4 Belgium endives
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 clove of chopped garlic
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (pulp included) – juice from 2 large oranges
Ingredients for Gremolata (with addition of chopped walnuts)
- 2 Tablespoons of chopped parsley
- Zest from one untreated lemon
- 2 Tablespoons of chopped walnuts
- Pinch of sea salt
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F or 230 degrees C
- Prepare endives: remove any outside discolored leaves and cut them lengthwise like in this picture:
- Remove the bottom core (which will decrease the bitter taste) and cut each half in half again
- In a hot pan, melt the butter and saute the endive with the garlic , salt and pepper
- After a few minutes, add the orange juice and cook for another few minutes, until the endives start to caramelize and change color
- Pour endives into a oven friendly baking dish, cover with foil and place in oven. Cook for 10 minutes. Then remove foil and cook 10 minutes more. While the endives are cooking, prepare the gremolata.
- For the gremolata, add parsley, walnuts, salt and lemon zest into a small bowl. Mix all ingredients well, smashing the parsley with the rest to make a type of paste, like pesto.
- When the endives have cooked for 20 minutes (with foil on and off), remove dish from oven and sprinkle the gremolata on the endives, taste and adjust for seasonings and serve immediately.
If you find that endives are slightly too bitter for your taste, see tips below on reducing bitterness in endives and other chicory vegetables like radicchio.
Tips to reduce bitterness taste in endives
- “Remove the white core, which is the most bitter part.”
- “Bitter compounds are water soluble, so soak the cut leaves for half an hour”
- “Good produce matters: fresh endive is only slightly bitter. If the heads have been exposed to light and warmth, they turn increasingly bitter. So if you can, buy them from stores where they are kept in dark boxes and choose firm, plump ( = fresh ) heads, then store them in the fridge at home.”
- “A quick stir-fry will keep the bitter compounds inside the leaves, long braising will tend to extract them into the sauce, making the whole dish being perceived as more bitter. If that’s too much for you, blanch first. “(Note that blanching will lead to some vitamin loss).
- “Adding sweet (in this recipe orange is the sweet part) or caramel (a generous pinch to a spoonful of sugar in the frying pan) or balsamic vinegar can mitigate the bitter taste.”
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