Photo by Joseph De Leo; styled by Mariya Yufest
Endive, a member of the chicory family, is said to have grown accidentally when a Belgian farmer discovered that the chicory roots he had stored for months in his dark cellar started growing a new crisp white vegetable. It became so popular that it was nicknamed "white gold" in Belgium. A very peculiar vegetable, endive still requires a two-step growing process: it's first grown from seed to root, and then grown in the absence of sunlight, which gives the leaves their signature washed-out color.
Yet, despite toying with translucence, endive happens to be very nutritious -- it is high in vitamins A, C, and E; fiber; and folic acid. It can be cooked any number of ways, but it'll pack its healthiest punch when eaten raw. The shape and size of its leaves make them the perfect two-bite vessels for chopped fillings, such as this refreshing and light pineapple shrimp salad. Dressed in lime juice and cilantro, the salad is similar to a ceviche, but since the shrimp is already cooked, it comes together much faster and eliminates any fear of ingesting raw seafood on one of these hot summer days.
Pineapple Shrimp in Endive Leaves
Makes about 32 stuffed endive leaves
1/2 pound cooked, peeled shrimp, tails removed
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 1/2 cups diced pineapple (from about 1/2 fresh pineapple)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 heads Belgian endive, separated into individual leaves
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Sweet and bitter is such a great combination. Endive is so intense you'll want a wine that can handle it. Something white from the Rhône would be good -- Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne all possess the ability to provide a rich and textural counterbalance. With the addition of pineapple and shrimp, Riesling would be a good match, too. The sweetness from the wine will complement that of the shrimp and contrast playfully with the endive.
2009 Michel Gassier "Lou Coucardié" Costières de Nîme Blanc, France
2008 Von Hövel Oberemmeler Hütte Riesling Spätlese, Germany
What other foods do you like to tuck into endive leaves? Share your cooking tips and serving suggestions in the comments section below.
Like this post? See the Easy Everyday topic from last week: Zucchini with Almond Basil Pesto.