California Vegetable Specialties /

On the endive video set

CVS, the largest grower of endive in the U.S., hired me to do videos, develop recipes, and write mat releases. To view a selection of videos, go to my Video Clips page.

Here’s a mat release and recipe:

Easy, elegant entertaining with endive

If you’re looking to make your holidays simple yet special, don’t overlook endive.

A member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole, and curly endive, endive (pronounced “on-deev”) is sometimes called the queen of vegetables and is prized the world over. It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness.

Always in Season
Whether you use red or white – or a combination, which always looks especially pretty – the small, slim heads have a natural elegance. They’re available year-round at most major supermarkets, and are grown by California Vegetable Specialties, the only U.S. producer of Belgian-style endive and the largest producer of red endive in the world.

When shopping for endive, look for smooth, plump, crisp, firm heads that are as pale as possible. Once you get it home, store endive wrapped in a damp paper towel inside a plastic bag. It’ll last that way in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator for ten to fourteen days – much longer than other lettuces.

Just One Calorie Per Leaf
Once you’re ready to use endive, there’s no need to wash it. Just cut the heads crosswise to use in salads. But why stop at that? Raw endive also makes a great dipper – use whole leaves for scooping or for filling with spreads and toppings. It’s not only more elegant than chips or crackers, but at only one calorie per leaf, it’s healthier, too.

Great Cooked
Perhaps the most versatile member of the lettuce family, endive can also be cooked. It’s delicious sautéed, braised, baked, and even grilled. Try halving heads lengthwise, brushing with your favorite salad dressing, and then broiling until lightly browned. A delightfully sophisticated side dish couldn’t be simpler.

Besides being low in calories, endive is rich in vitamins A, B, C, and K. It’s also high in fiber and a good source of both beta-carotene and potassium. Better still, endive is a wonderfully affordable way to treat your guests to something special over the holidays. Pound for pound, it’s less expensive than most bagged salads and crackers.

So add it to a salad. Use it as a slimmer dipper. Sauté, bake, braise, or broil it. You can use it so many ways – just use it. Your guests will feel indulged, and you’ll get to provide that feeling simply and easily, thanks to beautiful little heads of elegant endive.

Endive Spears with Pears and Prosciutto
Adapted from “100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love” (Wiley, 2010)

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 firm-ripe red or green pear, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 slices prosciutto or ham (about 1 1/2 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 large heads endive (about 8 ounces), one white and one red, trimmed and separated into leaves (you should have 16 to 20)

In medium bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, and cloves. Add pears, prosciutto, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to a medium serving bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and place the bowl on a platter. Arrange endive leaves on the platter, for guest to scoop up and enjoy pear mixture.