Depending on where you come from, you'll know this as Witlof, Endive, Belgian Endive, White Endive - whatever the name, it refers to this conical shape vegetable, a tight head of white leaves tinged with a light yellowy-green edge.
As a relative of chicory, you'll find that it shares some of those bitter flavours, which for some, can be a turn off. If you are one of those people, then this recipe will make you see Witlof in a new light.
I've been looking through Shane Osborne's Starters since he'll soon be in the country for the Food and Wine Festival in March and came across an interesting recipe for a caramelised endive tart. Cooking the endive releases it's natural sugars and these in turn will caramelise with time - the end product is a soft vegetable where just about all the bitterness has been removed.
Caramelised Endive Tart
[Makes 2 tarts]
1 Endive, cut in half lengthways
40 grams butter
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 puff pastry sheet
Cook the Endive:
Melt the butter over a medium heat, in a frying pan just big enough to fit the halved endives. Season the endive halves with salt and pepper before placing them, cut side down in the pan. Let them gently cook for about 5 minutes or until golden - you may need to decrease the heat if they seem to be browning too quickly.
Turn them over and cook for another 2 minutes.
Drain off the butter and add in the water or stock and simmer for 5 minutes or until cooked through and the liquid has reduced. Let them cool before continuing.
Assemble the tart:
Cut the puff pastry sheet in half.
Take one half and position a cooled endive half onto the center of the pastry. Trim the pastry so it forms an edge around the endive - about 2cms/1 inch. Remove the endive and using a finger, form an indentation in the pastry in the shape of the endive. Prick the pastry all over with a fork - put the endive back into position and then repeat the process with the other half.
Bake in a preheated 200°C/390°F oven until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.
Drizzle over with some of the pan juices before serving. If you want to make it even more special then serve it with Shane's accompaniment of pan roasted pears and walnuts.
It's an excellent starter or lunch dish for any occasion.