I spent considerable time on the phone with my cousin, Laurie, last night. She and I are on similar journeys toward a healthier lifestyle. Being a little further along this particular road, I was offering her some ideas for replacing the carbs (my enemy!) in her life with equally delicious and healthier options.
Sometimes in the exploration of new foods, you find something that you become almost obsessed with and one of those discoveries for me is endive. I asked her a simple question, “Do you like endive?” I did say EN-DIVE not ON-DEEV. There is a difference, but if I can convince someone to try it, I certainly won’t correct their pronunciation. What I recommended she use was the sleek and elegant Belgian endive (yes, this is actually ON-DEEV).
These days, when I explore a new vegetable I don’t just take it home and play as I did early in my journey. I actually research and learn what I can about how to choose, store, and prepare it. This exploration took me to http://endive.com/. I look for recipes and give them a go. Having discovered Belgian endive last year myself, I was happy to throw Cuz a few ideas of the many uses of endive I have tried and enjoyed.
The first thing I had trouble accepting is that endive does not need to be pulled apart and washed like most produce. If you take off the outer leaves and wipe off the tips, you are good to go. For anyone who is looking for easy options in a busy life, this is perfect. Fear not, I have eaten enough endive in a short time to assure you that it is perfectly safe.
Naturally, I began the easy way; I added chopped endive to my salad. It adds a delightful crunch which we enjoy. Then I decided it was the perfect replacement for carb-laden chips with my beloved salsa. Stop and think about that a moment … delicious salsa with an edible scoop that is figure friendly. And don’t forget the guacamole!
The very design of the leaves, however, drew me to recipes that made the endive a more prominent ingredient. As an alternative to so many carbohydrates, endive became a clear replacement for me. An appetizer that once was crackers and cheese now has endive leaves and a soft cheese of choice. Sprinkling a few nuts (your choice) on this adds even more crunch.
If you are a novice, look for simple appetizer recipes, such as this one for Boursin in endive spears http://endive.com/node/106. When you see the beauty in the simplicity, you can create an appetizer masterpiece based on your own favorite flavors. Remember, in baking you must follow directions, in cooking – and preparing appetizer plates – be creative!
Endive madness took over and I found myself buying it every week. In addition to endive becoming the cracker for my cheese and the chips for my salsa and guacamole, it became the mini pita for my fajitas and the mini shell for my tacos. There are other leafy treats if you want bigger pitas and shells, but we aren’t talking about those today!
So start slowly, but go buy a head or two of Belgian endive in your grocery store or your local farmer’s market. Use it simply at first as a crisp and healthy substitute for chips and crackers. When you fall in love with it, as I have, you can explore the many recipes for soups and warm satisfying meals made with this lovely vegetable.