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Monday, April 19, 2021

Belgian Endive, Blood Orange, Pistachio

Belgian Endive, Blood Orange, Pistachio

Belgian endive is a beautifully bitter leafy vegetable, with a sleek ivory frame and a bright yellow crown. The bitterness of the endive becomes a delightful asset when combined with a succulently sweet and sour blood orange. The aromatic attributes of Sicilian pistachios play a key role in enhancing the complexity of this combination. 


Slice the endive in half lengthwise, to reveal an intricate channel of slender, bright white stems topped off with delicate yellow leaves. This pattern is not only aesthetically pleasing but also facilitates even caramelization when desired. In order to add interest to the preparation, reduce fresh blood orange juice and combine with honey and a pinch of brown sugar to create a glaze. Spread the glaze in an even layer on the cut side of one half of the endive. Sprinkle a touch of turbinado sugar over the top for its sweetness and caramelizing capabilities. Roast the endive in a hot oven just until achieving a deep mahogany color. Direct conductive heat via a sauté pan or broiler would yield an overly dark result, creating a displeasing surplus of bitterness in the dish. This approach maintains some level of raw fresh crispness within the endive, while contributing an intense, deep but intriguingly complex and satisfying sweetness. The color and flavor contrasts stand out on the plate and on the palate.  


The narrow channel within a single leaf of endive provides ample opportunity for filling with a symbiotic stuffing. Greek yogurt is a great way to bring a cooling subtle richness to the plate. Add the zest of three blood oranges to one pint of cream and bring to a simmer. Whisk in six sheets of bloomed gelatin, then carefully fold the mixture into one quart of Greek yogurt and neatly pipe the mixture into the endive. Allow the panna cotta to set under refrigeration until firm.


As every panna cotta I have ever been seen has been topped with a gelee, I will not dare to break from tradition here either. Whisk four sheets of bloomed gelatin into one pint of fresh blood orange juice and set very carefully over the top of the endive-yogurt panna cotta. The bright orange gelee not only adds incredible visual appeal but captivates the taste buds with its unique taste and texture.  


The soothing aroma and texture of Sicilian pistachio crusted atop the caramelized endive is sure to entice a smile upon the first bite. In addition to its natural form, blend pistachio oil with a base of a loose simple syrup steeped with blood orange rind, with some help from a stabilizer called xanthan gum. The stabilizer gives the concoction a rich pudding- like texture that whimsically delivers added pistachio and blood orange flavor. 


The beautifully bold pistachio “pudding” lays in small circles underneath the expressions of endive, placed parallel to one another. Scatter a small dice of blood orange segments throughout the plate. Finally, combine blood orange juice with extra virgin olive oil to create a satisfyingly simple vinaigrette that will dress the finished plate. This intriguing interplay of bitter, sour, sweet, and silky smooth is sure to stand outside the salad bar box.

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