SOURCE: California Endive

November 03, 2011 05:00 ET

Add Flair to Holiday Celebrations With Endive

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Nov 3, 2011) - (Family Features) Take the stress out of holiday entertaining by using festive recipes that rely more on your flair than your time, such as anything made with the fashionable and elegant endive.

Both white and red varieties make an immediate style statement with minimal effort. Endive (say on-deev) can help you keep a lid on holiday calories, too. At only one calorie per spear, endive is truly the "slimmer dipper," a more wholesome choice than crackers or salty chips.

A versatile vegetable developed in Belgium but now California grown, endive can come to the table either hot or cold.

Endive may have a glamorous aura but it's a remarkably practical choice: less expensive pound-for-pound than most bagged salad mixes; longer lasting (up to 14 days if kept in moist paper towels in a plastic bag); and all but effortless -- there's no need to wash it or spin it dry. Its captivating bittersweet flavor has made endive a complement to apples, pears, nuts, smoked fish and roast meats.

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Endive with Roasted Red Pepper Feta Spread
Makes 1 1/3 cups spread, to serve 8
1/2 pound Greek or French feta, in small chunks
1/2 large roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or more if needed
2 dozen white and red endive spears for dipping
Fresh dill sprigs, for garnish
Kalamata olives, for garnish

Put feta, bell pepper and garlic in food processor and blend, adding just as much olive oil as needed to make a smooth puree. Transfer spread to serving platter or bowl and surround with endive spears. Garnish with dill sprigs and olives.

Endive with Mexican Shrimp Salad
Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, very finely minced
1/2 pound cooked and peeled baby shrimp
1/2 cup radishes, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 ripe but firm avocado, in small dice
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus whole leaves for garnish
Minced serrano or jalapeño chile, to taste
1/2 lime
18 to 20 endive spears

For dressing: In small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt to taste.

In medium bowl, combine shrimp, radishes, avocado, green onion, chopped cilantro, chile and a generous squeeze of lime juice. Add dressing and toss gently with your hands. Taste for salt and lime.

Divide mixture among endive spears. Garnish each spear with a whole cilantro leaf. Serve immediately.

Endive and Beet Salad with Candied Walnuts
Serves 4
3 medium red beets, greens removed
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
Candied walnuts:
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch salt
1 cup walnut halves or pieces
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
Salt and pepper
4 large endives, preferably 2 white and 2 red

Preheat oven to 400°F. Put beets in small baking dish with garlic, wine vinegar and water. Cover with lid or aluminum foil and bake until beets are tender when pierced, 45 to 60 minutes. Peel while warm. Let cool, then cut into small cubes.

For walnuts: Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In bowl, stir together sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Bring small pot of water to boil over high heat. Add walnuts and boil for 1 minute. Drain in a sieve. While they are still slightly damp, add walnuts to bowl with spiced sugar and stir to coat evenly. Spread walnuts on parchment paper and bake until they are fragrant and sugar has melted, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

For dressing: In small bowl, whisk together oil, wine vinegar, shallot and salt and pepper to taste. Add enough dressing to beets to coat them lightly.

Slice endives crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces. Discard ends. Put endive in bowl and toss with remaining dressing. Arrange on serving platter. Scatter beets over endives, then scatter candied walnuts over all. Serve immediately.

Endive Baked with Mustard, Thyme and Cream
Serves 4
6 medium endives
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut endives in half lengthwise. Use some of the butter to grease bottom of baking dish just large enough to hold endives in a single layer. Put endives in baking dish, cut side down. Dot with rest of butter. Cover with lid or aluminum foil and bake until tender when pierced, about 45 minutes.

In small saucepan, combine cream, broth, mustard, thyme, salt and a large pinch of black pepper. Whisk to blend. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat and simmer gently until mixture has reduced to 1/2 cup. Keep warm.

Remove endives from oven and turn them cut side up. Preheat broiler and position a rack 12 inches from element. Pour reduced cream mixture over endives. Broil until endives are richly browned and sauce has thickened. Set aside for about 5 minutes to cool slightly, then remove thyme sprigs, garnish with parsley and serve.

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