An easy, elegant starter for spring
Want to wow your guests without breaking a sweat? Try this full-flavored starter.
This salad looks (and tastes) like a dish that takes hours to prepare. No need to tell them that you whipped it up in under 15 minutes.
That’ll be our little secret.
Recipe: Belgian Endive Salad with Olives
Belgian endive has a slightly bitter flavor that combines well with salty olives.
For this recipe, you’ll need to cook the endive briefly. Then you can serve the salad warm or at room temperature. We usually put this dish together right before plating, but you could prepare it a few minutes ahead, then plate it when you’re ready to serve.
Endive doesn’t get much love. That’s too bad, because it looks great and tastes better. As a reminder, see our recipes for Braised Belgian Endive and Roast Belgian Endive.
There’s even a leafy, lettuce-like form of endive. We used it in our recipe for Salade Frisée aux Lardons.
We adapted this recipe from one we found in Jacques Pépin’s Table.
This recipe takes about 15 minutes to prepare. It serves 4 as a starter.
- 2 heads of Belgian endive (about 8 ounces total)
- 2 cloves garlic (or to taste)
- ½ cup water
- 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (the better the oil, the better the salad)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 to 3 pinches kosher salt, or to taste (can substitute regular table salt; see Notes)
- 4 to 6 grinds black pepper (or to taste)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons black or brown olives (see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or chives for garnish (optional)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce (or more to taste)
- Clean the endive: Wash it under cold, running water. Remove any wilted outer leaves. Drain the endive, then cut it into quarters lengthwise.
- Peel the garlic, then mince it finely.
- Place the endive pieces and chopped garlic in a nonreactive saucepan (we recommend using stainless steel). Add the water, olive oil, and vinegar, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pit the olives (if necessary) and chop them roughly (you may want to reserve some whole olives for garnish; see Notes). Rinse and dry the parsley or chives (if using) and chop them finely.
- Remove the cooking pan from the heat. Add the soy sauce and chopped olives, then stir the ingredients together.
- Plate the endive salad, dividing it among the serving plates. Sprinkle chopped parsley or chives on top as garnish, if you wish. Serve and enjoy.
- You can prepare this salad 10 to 20 minutes ahead, then serve it at room temperature if you prefer. If going that route, we’d add the soy sauce and olives in Step 5, then let everything sit in the cooking pan until ready to serve. The flavor won’t be quite as bright as it would if you prepare the salad right before serving, but it’ll still be very good.
- We like to leave some olives whole and add one or two to each plate as extra garnish.
- Kalamata olives are easy to find and are wonderful in this dish. Niçoise olives also work well.
- Olives range in color from green to black. Green ones are the least ripe, while black (or purple or deep brown, depending on variety) are the most ripe. Light brown and reddish olives are in between. In general, we find that ripe olives have a deeper, more subtle flavor.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we recommend. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- And remember: Olives and soy sauce add quite a bit of salt to this dish. We prefer to under-season the dish slightly when cooking (Step 3), then add more salt at table if necessary.
- Soy sauce typically contains wheat. So use a gluten-free variety (or substitute tamari) if serving this dish to guests who are gluten intolerant.
- Belgian endive is available throughout the year, but its peak season is from September through May.
- Belgian endive is a form of chicory. In fact, if you go looking for “chicory” in Britain, you’ll probably find the veggie known as “Belgian endive” in the US.
“Yum,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This salad is good to the bitter end.”
“Yup,” I said. “Olive it too.”
“Jeez,” said Mrs K R. “Are olive your jokes that bad?”
“Guess they’re the pits,” I said.
“Endive just about had enough,” said Mrs K R.
OK, maybe time to offer an olive branch.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Braised Belgian Endive
Roast Belgian Endive
Salade Frisée aux Lardons
Asparagus and Spinach Salad
Marinated Cauliflower Salad with Capers
Fennel and Pear Salad
French-Style Braised Lettuce and Peas
Italian Celery and Mushroom Salad
Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
Or check out the index for more