Roasting Is the Easiest Way to Cook this Versatile Vegetable
Have you ever been in the supermarket and seen those cute little white, torpedo-shaped vegetables called Belgian endives — and wondered what to do with them?
Well, you can stop wondering. Earlier this week we discussed how to braise Belgian endive. And today we’re going to talk about roasting it, which is perhaps the easiest way to cook it.
And in my book, the tastiest.
Recipe: Roast Belgian Endive
Raw Belgian endive has a slightly bitter flavor that I find pleasant. But roasting concentrates the vegetable’s natural sugars, mellowing that bitterness. As discussed in the recipe for Roast Sweet Potatoes, roasting works well with vegetables because a hot oven evaporates moisture, making veggies tender and caramelizing them.
The process is easy: Just toss cut-up veggies with olive oil, salt, and pepper before roasting. You can roast Belgian endive (or any vegetable, for that matter) at oven temperatures ranging from 300 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. I prefer 400 - 425 for Belgian endive. It takes longer to cook at lower temperatures, and at higher temperatures it has a tendency to char somewhat (which I regard as a good thing, although not always something I want).
This recipe serves 4 to 6. Active prep time is about 5 minutes, roasting time about 30 minutes. Well-wrapped leftovers will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. They’re good cold, or you can heat them in the microwave.
- 1½ pounds Belgian endive (about 8; or as many as you want)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- balsamic vinegar to finish (optional, but highly recommended)
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash the endives under running water and dry. Remove any wilted leaves (if recently purchased, there shouldn’t be any), and cut a thin wedge from the root end of each stem. Cut each endive in half lengthwise.
- Toss endives in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them cut-side up in a baking dish or on a baking sheet (lining with parchment paper makes for easier cleanup).
- Roast for 15 minutes. At this point, you can turn the endives over (optional; turning makes them brown more evenly, but that might not matter to you), and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes until done (total roasting time is 25 - 30 minutes). Endives are done when they’re tender (pierce with tip of a sharp knife to test).
- Remove from oven, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, and serve warm. Alternatively, you can allow them to cool and then serve at room temperature.
- If you’re roasting meat, this dish (or any roast vegetable) is an ideal accompaniment, because it will cook at any temperature you’re likely to use for cooking the meat.
- But oven temperature affects how quickly Belgian endive roasts. At 500 degrees, it could take as little as 25 minutes. At 300 degrees, it may need 45 minutes or so. Start testing the endive at the 25-minute mark, and keep testing every 5 minutes until you determine that it’s done.
- You can use more or less olive oil than called for in Step 3, depending on what flavor you want. If you want a really low-fat dish, you can get by without using any olive oil, although the endive will be somewhat dry, and also less flavorful. If you go the no-olive-oil route, spray the cooking surface with baking spray to reduce sticking, or line with parchment paper.
- Garlic goes well with roast endive. Peel and thickly slice 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, and toss with the oil in Step 3.
- You can also add herbs or spices to the olive oil in Step 3. I particularly like dried thyme or fresh rosemary in this recipe.
- Instead of balsamic vinegar, you can garnish Roast Belgian Endive with freshly grated cheese (Parmesan is particularly nice) just before serving.
- If you want your Roast Endive to be even sweeter, try the following: After placing the endives cut-side up in the baking dish (Step 3), sprinkle just a touch of sugar or drizzle a bit of maple syrup on each endive.
I like vegetables and enjoy preparing them in many different ways. But I’ve always tended to buy the same dozen or so veggies most of the time – largely ignoring the many others that a typical supermarket stocks.
What a mistake! There’s a lot of flavor I’m overlooking. Like Belgian endive. I had never cooked it until about 2 months ago. Now? I can’t get enough of the stuff.
“That’s the great thing about having a blog,” I said to Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “It’s a motivation to try new foods, new flavors. There are so many foods that we rarely — or never — eat. I plan to try a lot of them in the coming months.”
“And you’ll be sampling them in quantity?”
“Well, yeah. Research is like that. You have to be thorough because you never know where you might end up.”
“Actually,” said Mrs K R, patting my belly, “in your case, we know exactly where the research is going to end up.”
Well, OK. But at least vegetables are healthy.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Braised Belgian Endive
Roast Sweet Potatoes
Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
Spinach Salad with Parmesan