Endive & Fennel Salad à la Honest Fare

Since we are out traveling we can’t share any new recipes ourselves, therefore we have asked some of our favorite bloggers for help. So far Golubka, Roost and My New Roots have shared a recipe. Today Gabi from the super cool blog Honest Fare has come up with this beautiful salad. If you are new to Honest Fare we urge you to jump over there. Whether you are in the mood for a seasonal smoothie, an impressive collard wrap or a yummy mushroom soup, Gabi has got the recipe for it. But today it’s a salad. Here is her story behind it:

At the risk of sounding boring (on someone else’s blog, no less), I’m going to come out and tell you that salad is my favorite thing to eat. And make. There’s so much you can do with it, and I also find the act of preparing a salad somewhat relaxing. Do you know what I mean? Washing and drying the lettuce in the same way you’ve done a thousand times before. Slicing the veggies. Arranging the layers of ingredients. It all takes me to my happy, quiet place. A sort of free form, stream of consciousness dilly-dally around the kitchen wherein you can experiment with flavor combinations or just reach for whatever sounds good at the moment and throw it into a bowl. Or in the case of this warm endive and fennel salad, a pan.

Endive, like all chicories, is a member of the daisy family and a close relative to lettuce and dandelion, which it resembles. The cichorium endivia family has brothers and sisters of all shapes and sizes – loose-leaf or headed, curly or flat-edged and of the green or red variety. There’s endive, escarole, Belgian endive, curly endive, baby curly endive (frisée) and radicchio, just to name a few. There is some debate over the exact nomenclature of chicories between countries, but we won’t get into that here. One thing everyone can agree on is that their crunchy texture and wild bitterness make chicories a great compliment to milder lettuces, nuts, cheeses and fruits – all of which I happen to love in salads.

This particular salad was born a few weeks ago when, in the midst of one of my hypnotic salad making episodes, I added some mature curly endive leaves to my bowl figuring it would be similar in flavor to frisée (which is actually just baby curly endive anyway). It wasn’t though. Whoops. Unlike the lacy and crisp frisée I was used to, the tough leaves of this curly endive struck me as a tad too bitter and vegetal for the moment.

The solution? I picked it all out and threw it on a hot pan with some olive oil and sea salt to tame the bitterness. And since then, cooked curly endive salads have been my winter salad of choice.

For this hearty and warm winter salad, I simply braise some red onions and fennel with coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper until soft and evenly browned.  Then I quickly deglaze the pan with some apple cider vinegar. I add the curly endive at the end with a good squeeze of lemon juice just before it fully wilts. It’s nice topped off with some diced Kalamata olives and grated Romano cheese. The acidity of the lemon, apple cider and endive against the buttery sweetness of the onions, cheese and fennel are a really great balance – and it’s all oh so nice eaten straight out of the pan!

Hey, thanks for having me here on Green Kitchen Stories and I hope you’ll give cooked endive a try!

Warm Endive & Fennel Salad

Curly endive
Red onion
Fennel bulb
Apple cider vinegar
Lemon juice
Kalamata olives
Romano cheese
Coarse sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Olive oil

Directions: Pluck several leaves of endive; wash and fully dry; tear into pieces and set aside.  Thinly slice some red onion and fennel. Dice some Kalamata olives and grate some Romano cheese and set aside for later too.

Get some oil nice and hot on your pan and add the red onions and a pinch of coarse sea salt. Cook on med-high heat until they begin to brown. Remove and set aside.  Add a little more olive oil and the fennel to the pan with another sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper. Cook fennel undisturbed for about 3-5 minutes per side. Once fennel is soft and golden brown, add a nice splash of apple cider vinegar to create some steam and deglaze the pan.

Now add your cooked red onions back to the pan and a good amount of raw endive. Remember, the endive will cook down so you can add more than you’d think. Toss quickly and squeeze lemon juice overtop. Remove from heat just as endive begins to wilt. Top with diced olives and cheese. Enjoy!

Text & photo by Honest Fare