Endive has a mild chicory flavor and a slightly bitter taste. Adding a little sugar or honey—either in the vinaigrette for an endive salad, or when the vegetable is cooked— tones down the bitterness.
Bacon-wrapped endive is my riff on the classic French dish of endive and ham with a Mornay sauce. This version, which is simple to put together, would make a lovely side dish for roast chicken. I also like to serve it as the main course for a Sunday brunch with friends. The richness of the bacon and cheese are a nice complement to the mild root flavor of the endive, which develops a luscious, silky texture when cooked.
Fresh raw endive, on the other hand, is as crisp as can be and is ideal for salads (cut off the bottom and remove a few outer leaves). So I'm also including a recipe for a quintessential French-American salad. This is a meal in itself—crunchy, sweet, and earthy, thanks to the addition of walnuts and ham. If you want to make this a vegetarian dish, you can substitute grilled mushrooms for the meat. Either way, endive: c'est bon!
What to Drink
"A wine from the Jura region, such as Julien Labet Côtes du Jura Chardonnay 'les Varrons' 2007 ($24), would be the perfect accompaniment for the endive gratin," says Daniel Johnnes, wine director of Daniel Boulud's restaurants. "It's dry, with a hint of smoke that complements the bacon." Another good option is beer, which goes well with both endive dishes. Johnnes suggests Reissdorf Kölsch from Germany ($5), a medium-bodied pale ale with a grainy, yeasty aroma and a crisp finish. "It's fruity enough to balance the slight bitterness of the endive," he explains.