Brussels endives are up there in the Hall of Fame of my favorite vegetables – right between eggplant and cherry tomatoes. I am a sucker for braised endives – the whole vegetable, sliced lengthwise and braised slowly – patiently! – in a heavy bottomed skillet with a little butter and a tiny bit of moisture, until tender and ready to melt on your tongue… hmmm. Unfortunately, not everyone (including my significant other) is an equally big fan of braised endives. It is in fact very much an acquired taste, due to the endives bitterness. This recipe is an attempt to spruce things up with some extra ingredients and introduce the endives into a more quiche-y concept. (also, I had some ready-made pie dough that was past expiry date and needed quick baking – oops). I meant to use pine nuts but found mine had in fact become rancid (double oops) and so I used cashews instead. I also used soy cream instead of regular cream to keep it a bit healthier, since there’s already butter and cheese in the dish. The result was delicious and I hope you’ll give it a try!
Ingredients (about 3-4 servings):
one portion of store-bought or home made pie crust (I used shortcrust pastry, but puff pastry would work as well)
a handful of cashew nuts
50 grams salted or unsalted butter
one red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
about 20 grams of fine sugar
4 stumps of Brussels endives, cut in half lengthwise
100 grams of feta cheese
250 ml of soy Cuisine cream (or regular cream)
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Roll out the pie crust in a regular-sized quiche pan (preferably a metal or porcelain one) and poke holes in the dough with a fork. Put a large heavy bottomed skillet on a medium fire (no grease!) and when hot, roast the cashews until golden brown. Pay close attention as this can advance quite quickly and the nuts will go black. Put the cashews aside, let them cool down and crumble them into bits. Heat a bit of butter in the skillet and add the chopped onion. Fry the onion in the butter and add the garlic after a few minutes. When the onion starts to become brownish, remove from the skillet and add to the cashews. Add some salt and pepper.
Put the rest of the butter in the skillet and let it melt. Sprinkle with sugar (I usually don’t use sugar on endives, but it helps to caramelize them in this case. If you dislike the bitterness you can always add more but I think it’s a shame to drown the delicate endive taste in sugar). Let it sit for half a minute, then carefully put the endives in the pan, flat side down.
Now comes the delicate part that will test your patience. Don’t turn up the fire too high, as the endives will burn and be ruined. Cover the skillet with a lid. Turn the endives around every few minutes. The inside of the skillet should contain enough moisture, if not, add a little bit of water. Let the endives braise for 15-20 minutes, until completely tender and slightly caramelized on both sides. Turn off the fire and try to restrain from eating them like this…
Compose the endive in the quiche pan. Sprinkle with the cashews and onions and crumble the feta over them. Beat the eggs with the soy cream, add pepper and salt and pour over the endives. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown. Let it cool a little. Enjoy!