You’ve got to hand it to California Endive Farms. There’s no better way to a blogger’s heart than through free food, especially free food packaged into a bouquet for Valentine’s Day. I met them at the Foodbuzz Blogger Conference and was more than thrilled when my endive bouquet arrived ay my office a week ago.
After parading my bouquet around the office I set about to find recipes to prepare with my lovely blooms. I settled on a soup and a salad recipe, then gave a small package to a coworker to try grilling these beauties. The result was a Friday feast in the office of endive three ways.
Unwrapping the bouquet revealed in stark detail how endive grows. Lifted straight from the California Endive Farms website, here’s how:
Endive is a member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole, frisee and curly endive. It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness — great served raw or cooked.
So Special…It’s Grown Twice
Endive is one of the most difficult vegetables in the world to grow, requiring a two-step process before it is ready to be enjoyed. The first growth takes about 150 days in the field, where the chicory plant grows from seed into a deep root. At harvest, tops of the leafy chicory plant are cut off, roots dug up, and placed in cold storage, where they enter a dormancy period. As demand necessitates, roots are removed from cold storage for their second growth, which takes 28 days in dark, cool, and humid forcing rooms, similar to mushroom growing. This control over the initiation of this process allows us to produce endive year-round.
Wow, that’s a lot of work and it makes you wonder how they ever perfected the process in the first place…must be a trade secret. Anyway, the good news is that if you fall in love with endive, you’ll have access to it 365 days of the year.
My first recipe, Mushroom and Endive Soup is adapted from AllRecipes. I omitted the cilantro and cayenne pepper to suit my own taste and those of my coworkers.
I followed the recipe steps through the addition of the milk, then chilled it overnight. The next day, I added yogurt to the cooled soup before cooking on high for two hours in a slow cooker.
The result is an earthy, satisfying soup that is low in calories with a good amount of protein, selenium, vitamin D and calcium. I added cayenne and some chipotle to leftovers and the spice really added a fun layer of complexity and spice to the soup.
Next, I made a red endive salad with a simple strawberry balsamic vinaigrette (made with Lucero’s Miller’s Blend Olive Oil and Strawberry White Balsamic Vinegar) tossed with California walnuts and bleu cheese.
This combination proves that simple, high quality ingredients can combine together to make an incredible dish. The sweet of the strawberry balsamic is a great contrast to the bitter of the endive. I can’t wait to make this salad again once strawberries come into season.
Our final offering for the endive trio was grilled endive with olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Probably better hot off the grill, the endive absorbed the smoky flavor from the grill and would make a delightful appetizer for your summer BBQ. They were a little fragile by the time they made it to the office.
I hope you enjoyed my experiments with endive three ways. Receiving the bouquet was a wonderful treat that brightened my Valentine’s Day. What’s your favorite way to prepare endive?