Endive: difficult to grow and typically mis-pronounced, this elegant little vegetable is worth getting to know – and I got to do just that when I recently attended the 2016 International Food Bloggers Conference this July in Sacramento, CA. The conference kicked off with a farm excursion to an endive farm in Rio Vista, CA. Guided by the founder of CA Endive, Rich Collins, the excursion brought us inside the only major endive growing facility in the country where we were privileged to learn firsthand from Rich, how he and his team successfully overcame the challenge of growing endive year round right here in Northern California.
ALL ABOUT ENDIVE
Endive (pronounced: ON-deev) is a member of the chicory family which includes more well known leafy vegetables like radicchio, escarole, frisee and curly endive. Endive go through two growing processes. They start off sown from seed and grow into a leafy chicory plant after about 150 days in the field. These plants get harvested, stripped down to the bare root and then placed into cold storage to go dormant.
DORMANT CHICORY ROOTS IN COLD STORAGE (PHOTO CREDIT: Kendra Cardoza – paleopaparazzi.com)
For their second growth, the roots get taken from cold storage and placed into dark, cool, humid forcing rooms, where in about 28 days they become the unique and delicious vegetable known as endive. Witnessing the structured growing facility and hearing the expertise from founder Rich Collins during our tour, gave me a deep appreciation for all he and his team have invested into making California grown endive possible.
ENDIVE READY TO HARVEST (PHOTO CREDIT: Kendra Cardoza – paleopaparazzi.com)
MARKET READY ENDIVE
CA Endive has worked very hard at making endive available to the general public – their endive is available across America in Trader Joes and Whole Foods markets. Our tour ended with each of us getting to bring home some freshly harvested endive and I immediately knew how we would enjoy this amazing vegetable – as endive with whipped goat cheese, smoked trout, pickled red onion and dill.
This endive recipe was actually created for the Fall Farmstead Supper last year. Inspired by the wild trout that our co-host Kyle had caught & smoked, the endive leaves became the ideal vessel for the whipped goat cheese, smoked trout, pickled red onion and dill, making for the perfect combination of flavors and textures.
Pickled red onion is the pretty final touch to these small bites, but is the first thing we prepare so that the onion has time to pickle and transform into that gorgeous shade of pink. Pickled red onion is such a beautiful condiment. Plus, it is so simple to make, we always keep a jar on hand.
While this recipe may sound and look elegant, it is really so easy to pull together. Even though we originally used wild trout that was caught and smoked by Kyle, you can find smoked trout everyday at Trader Joes or substitute a different smoked fish depending on what is available to you.
The crisp texture and sweet, nutty flavor of the endive combined with the creamy whipped goat cheese, the tender smoked trout, and the brightness of fresh dill and pickled red onion make this a small bite to remember. This delicious starter would be perfect for a gathering with friends and family, or eaten as a light meal between you and someone you love.
- 1 medium red onion, peeled & sliced
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup vinegar (sherry vinegar, white balsamic, or apple cider vinegar)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp fine grain salt
- 3 endives, separated into individual large leaves (reserve the small cores for adding to a salad)
- 5 oz. goat cheese
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 oz. smoked trout
- pickled red onion & dill for garnish
- Start by placing sliced red onion in a heat safe jar
- Add water, honey & salt to a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until well combined
- Add the vinegar to the hot water mixture, stir to combine and pour liquid over the red onions in the jar
- Allow jar of onions to cool to room temperature, cover & store in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours (or until onions have turned completely pink)
- With a whisk or stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip goat cheese with heavy whipping cream until well combined & fluffy, about 3 minutes
- Fill the lower half of each endive leaf with about 1 1/2 tsp of whipped goat cheese & place a small piece of smoked trout on top of goat cheese.
- Take one slice of pickled red onion & garnish the top of each endive
- Top each endive with sprigs of fresh dill, serve immediately or store in the refrigerator & leave them at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving