Belgian endives are something that I grew up eating cooked, mostly in brown butter, alongside some cut of pork. My flemish dad usually made these, contently browning them in a small pot with butter, covering them, and allowing them to steam in the nutty, brown goodness. When you lift the lid, a thick cloud of steam would puff out of the pot, and I remember my dad would poke them to make sure that they were soft and tender. They almost have a creamy texture, with a strong bitter taste that I actually really liked, even as a kid (but I was a kid that pretty much ate everything). My sister and mom weren’t the biggest fans, so I remember my dad and I getting up for seconds, my dad pleased that I liked this traditional flemish dish.
I remember the first time I made cooked endives for Dana, he truly hated them (Dana was a picky eater when I first met him – that has since changed with my help). Since I love endives, I wanted to find something that I could make with them that Dana would like. This is a salad that I often made with my husband Dana when I would get home late at night after working as a line cook. It has stood the test of time as I still make it when the first fall apples start popping up in the markets. It is clean tasting, fresh, and comes together quickly. Raw endives don’t have the same bitter taste as cooked ones. They are only slightly bitter when eaten raw.
This salad is a stepping stone for people who aren’t so sure about endives. The dressing is creamy, which balances out the slight bitter flavor. Everything is chopped up small so that it is easy to
scarf down after a long shift at a restaurant eat. 🙂
Apple Endive Salad with Creamy Creme Fraiche Dressing
Despite the fact that the dressing has creme fraiche in it, its a light salad that you’ll feel really good about eating. Add some roasted chicken or lentils to make a meal out of it. Or serve it alongside your holiday turkey. To make it more festive, some pomegranate arils would look and taste lovely.
Serves 2 for a main salad
heaping tablespoon of minced shallots
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar (or you can substitute red wine, champagne, or white wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 tablespoons blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped herbs (any single or combination of chervil, parsley, chives, or dill)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
salt + pepper to taste
1 small apple, I like gala, cameo, and fuji
3 medium sized endives red or white or 5 small endives
3 tablespoons chives, thinly sliced
1 tablespoons blue cheese
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
Optional add-ins: 1 cup cooked black lentils, 1 cup diced roasted chicken breast, chervil leaves (as pictured)
Make the dressing. Mash up the blue cheese with a fork along with the rest of the ingredients. To taste the dressing for seasoning, dip a small endive leaf (this gives you a better idea for how to season). Once it is to your liking, prepare the salad ingredients. Chop the apples into thin slices then cut into 1/2 inch sized pieces. Quarter the endives and remove the inner core next to the root end and slice into 1/2 inch sized pieces. Place in a bowl along with 1/2 of the chives, blue cheese, and almonds. Pour over the dressing and mix. Taste salad for seasoning. Serve with the remaining for garnish sprinkled on top. Serve immediately!
*photo credit to Wendy Armand