Caramelized Endive with Gruyere
Difficulty Level: Easy
I was looking for a different starter to a light dinner, had some endive from the Farmers Market – and thus, began my search for a quick, different and tasty dish. I am an endive fan. I love the crisp texture and fresh, sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness – great served raw or cooked.
|The star of the show....endive!|
So what is endive (on-deev)? Most often referred to as Belgian endive, it could be called the elegant member of the chicory family, with its tightly packed leaves and smooth, elongated shape. Unlike the more simple, field-only production of curly endive or other chicories, its final growth takes place in the dark, contributing to its blanched color. Endive is a member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole, frisee and curly endive. It is a challenging vegetable to grow, requiring a two-step growing process before it is ready to be enjoyed. The first growth takes about 150 days in the field, where the chicory grows from seed into a leafy green plant with a deep root. At harvest, tops of the leafy chicory plant are cut off; the roots dug up, and then placed in cold storage where they enter a dormancy period. As demand necessitates, roots are removed from cold storage for their second growth, which takes 28 days in dark, cool, humid forcing rooms, similar to a mushroom growing facility. Once you’re ready to use endive, there’s no need to wash it. The leaves have not been exposed to soil and are harvested and packed under sanitary conditions.
- 1 Tb olive oil
- 1 ½ Tb butter
- ½ tsp sugar
- 4 Endives, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
- 7 oz Gruyere, sliced
- 2-3 tsp fresh breadcrumbs
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degree F. Place a heavy, flat saute pan on medium heat. Add the olive oil, butter, sugar and pinch of salt, allow to heat up.
Place endive halves, cut-side down, in the pan. Do not move them for 3-5 minutes, or until they turn a deep golden brown. Do not crowd them in the pan, utilizing two pans if necessary. Remove from heat.
|Sauteeing the endive...don't crowd them!|
|Now cooked to a golden brown|
Transfer the endive halves to a small ovenproof dish, arranging them cut-side up, close together. Sprinkle with half of the thyme. Place the slices of cheese on top and sprinkle with rest of the thyme.
Place in the oven to bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and some black pepper. Return to the oven, increase temperature to 400 degree F and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs brown. Serve hot.
If you are not a fan of Gruyere – you could substitute with Taleggio for a very creamy cheese or Raclette which was born to melt and would completely encompass the endive. In any case – give this quick first course a try in your kitchen. It is a great way to introduce the wonders of Endives and satisfy any pallet.