Belgian endives's pleasant bitterness and refreshing crunchiness pair well with strong flavors, like a cheese full of character or salty anchovies. It's delightful with something creamy (cream, butter, soft cheese), or, I discovered, a hint of something sweet like a drizzle of honey, to balance out the bitterness.
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Because of their shape and size, the juicy, crisp leaves, which sit like little boats, make perfect finger food, just waiting to be filled with something.
This delicate antipasto is so easy, you barely need to do anything other than assemble the ingredients and let the flavors do all the work. It's a wonderful balance of sweet, bitter, salty, and creamy.
And if you'd like to get a little more acquainted with endive's ease, here are some suggestions:
Jane Grigson cooks endive in butter and cream until golden and succulent or adds them raw to potato salad with prosciutto crude.
You can also simply roast them with a sprinkle of salt or keep them raw and dress them with a vinaigrette, crumbled blue cheese, and toasted walnuts.
And you can make a salad out them like Gabrielle Hamilton does, pretending that they are a beautiful, bitter, green bundle of Roman puntarelle and topping them with a bracing dressing of lemon, garlic, anchovies, and olive oil.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.