I keep trying to teach Sparky to cook vegetables, but since he's learned to scrape, trim, steam, roast, chip and saute - he can pretty much deal with any vegetable that comes his way. Finding a way to keep him engaged means scanning the internets for recipes with a little, well, panache. When the Wednesday Chef posted a link to this engaging French video, I knew I'd found a winner.
We discovered a number of things while creating this recipe. First of all, you can pretty much eat this while you are prepping it: it is delicious raw. It might possibly be even more delicious raw with the salad dressing, but we were too busy eating and cooking to find out. Second, you know you've picked a winner when your cooks keep purposely messing up just so they can nibble their "mistakes." Third, endives and apples apparently are not only delicious raw, but make acceptable substitutes for weaponry:
6 nice, firm Belgian endives
2-3 firm, crisp apples (we used Galas)
1 blood orange (a regular orange will do, but we will be using the zest, so unless you see a bit of color variation, buy organic this time)
1 small pointy beet
About a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
This recipe is made considerably easier with a mandoline slicer. You can use a vegetable peeler to get thin slices of apple and beet, but it is better to be able to control the thickness of your slices.
Then, peel your beet and slice it into heart-shapes using the mandoline slicer (adult supervision and hand guards required - we use a kevlar glove.) Set these aside.
Cut your endives in half lengthwise. Working fairly quickly (we were lucky to have Sparky's buddy Zuko to help) slice apples into as thin slices as possible. Wiggle your finger in between the leaves of the endive, and slide apple slices in between as many of the leaves as you can.
You now have a delicious endive-apple wedge salad, you can give hungry people a knife, fork and skip to the vinaigrette to dress it...but if you want to take it to the next level, follow the reamining directions.
Bring two skillets, well oiled with olive oil (be sure there is enough to prevent the cheese from sticking!) to medium heat. Put the beet hearts in one. Sprinkle the cut side each prepared endive with a layer of parmesan cheese and carefully place the cut side down on the oiled skillet.Put a lid on the endives, and allow both skillets to cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the endives have slightly wilted on the top and caramelized on the bottom, and the beets are tender.
Zest your blood orange and add the zest to a small bowl. Add the juice of half the orange, salt - start with 1/4 tsp and add more to taste - and 2 tbsp of olive oil. Blend well with a fork - this dressing will not emulsify, so your goal is to get it as well mixed as you can.
Plate your flaming hearts! Using a stiff spatula, remove the cooked endives from the skillet and flip them so the cut side is up. Garnish the base of the endive (which now looks like a little flame) with one of your beet hearts, drizzle with the blood orange vinaigrette and add additional Parmesan as desired.
These were spectacularly delicious at every stage! Enjoy!