In Season: Endives

Endives at Marché Mouton-Duvernet Despite the change of seasons, early winter sees markets still stocked with autumnal favorites such as squash, cabbage, and mushrooms.  As we sink deeper into January and embrace the coming of the season's vegetables, I think endives, with their ability to be both bitter and sweet,  are a suitable way to welcome a new year and all that comes with it. These vegetables may have an underwhelming exterior, but their pale yellow and green tightly closed leaves pack in a plethora of potential tastes.

Eaten young and raw endives are delicately bitter and have an arguably acquired taste. Wait until endives are riper and sporting green leaves if you want an even more amer flavor when eaten uncooked.

Braise endives with butter and honey or sugar and you will discover a delightful sweeter side of this cold weather légume grown in Northern France. Served raw or cooked, endives can be prepared for the duration of the winter months in a variety of ways.

I spotted a selection of endives at Marché Mouton-Duvernet this week, while shopping at Maraîcher Eric Credaro's stand. Eric sells a mixture of produce from his garden along with produce from friends with organic farms.

Endives are a versatile ingredient for winter meals

What: Endives

When: January 9, 2013

Where: Marché Mouton-Duvernet, 75014

How: Endives are incredibly versatile. A traditional French recipe is to prepare the endives in a gratin, first wrapping each endive in a piece of ham, then arranging the endives in a dish and covering them with a bechamel sauce and grated gruyère and baking until golden.

If you like the raw, bitter taste of endives, you can cut them into coins and serve them with walnutsroquefort, and homemade vinaigrette in a tossed salad.

A hearty vegetarian option is to prepare the endives in a risotto with mushrooms and any other seasonal vegetables you care to add (i.e. grated carrots, citrus zest, leeks)

Endive Risotto served with roasted endive leaves and shaved parmesan

Endive Risotto

Ingredients:

2 cups arborio rice

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp butter

1/4 dry white wine

1 medium onion, diced

4 small endives

6-8 mushrooms (crimini or whatever medium sized variety you prefer)

1/2 grated parmesan cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

Slowly add vegetable broth as rice cooks to make a creamy winter risotto

Steps:

1) Set oven to broil and heat to 375° F  ( about 200° C)

2) Prepare vegetable broth. Wash endives and remove ends, cut in half and then chop- set aside tips of the endives to roast and add as a garnish later.

3) Heat one tablespoon of butter in a pan, once hot add chopped endives and cook until lightly browned, but not too tender. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl. Do the same with the mushrooms, cooking in butter until they begin to release liquid, set aside in a different bowl for use later.

4) Sauté diced onions in olive oil until until clear, add arborio rice and stir until coated with oil. Add white wine and stir until absorbed.

5) Add broth 1/4 cup at a time, constantly stirring until the broth is absorbed by the rice. After adding half the broth, add endives and whatever juices are in the bowl. Continue adding broth. Once all the broth has been added and the rice is cooked, add mushrooms and stir to combine.

6) Add parmesan and stir until it is mixed in. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let sit.

7) Arrange endive leaf tips on a baking sheet. Brush evenly with olive oil and salt lightly. Put in heated oven and bake 5-8 minutes, until crisp and golden. Remove from oven and let cool.

8) Serve risotto topped with grated parmesan and endive chips.