Delicious endive salad that is healthy, warm and full of flavour and character. This beautiful autumn salad is colourful, filling and most importantly packed with essential vitamins and antioxidants to stay healthy.
Endives are amazing tightly packed bitter leaves that are very common in Mediterranean cuisine at the end of September and the beginning of October. They are often grown in the same soil which has been recently vacated by broad beans. It is a wonderful seasonal lettuce with bitter flavours that are particularly popular in Italy. Endives are often paired with the sweeter flavours of goats cheeses and fruity salads. The firm leaf itself is a perfect shape for scooping up dips and as such tends to be very popular as a crudité.
With this braised endive salad recipe the bitter flavour of uncooked endive is totally transformed when sauteed in a pan. Technically we don’t complete the braising as this would mean adding a liquid on to the endives and turning the heat right down and letting them soften even more. This is a quick method that gently chars the salad but sweetens the flavours beautifully. The result is far from the bitter beginning flavour. The texture is almost akin to a roasted shallot and the flavour is buttery and sweet with just a hint of bitter in the background. Once cooked they can be served as a side dish to go with just about anything.
In France, there is a wonderful fondue made with endives which is gorgeous. With its unique flavour and texture it makes the most beautiful warm salad. The somewhat complex flavours don’t need much embellishment so this is a very simple recipe with few ingredients. To add Italian flavours that go well at this autumnal time of year we have added rich sundried tomatoes and capers to add a robust umami flavour, some fresh red onion which add a little sweet spice and the added crunch of some herby home-made sourdough croutons. For the dressing we have created a special little dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, garlic and fresh rosemary with a hint of mustard and citrus. The lemon gives a freshness to the palate but alternatively, you can use your favourite vinegar. A nice sherry vinegar would work or keep it Italian with a drop of balsamic vinegar.
There is a simplicity to this endive salad but the result is great. When eating a purely plant-based diet, texture and flavour is ever so important and sometimes it is easy to over-complicate recipes to create unique textures or to try and recreate textures found in non-plant-based diets. When you discover a texture that is created in hardly no time at all that is firm yet silky soft with a complex sweet and savoury flavour you would think you’ve created pure kitchen alchemy. What’s more is that endives pack a punch of antioxidants too which make them very healthy too.
Endive salad is packed with antioxidants
Endives are high in Kaempferol which is in a class of phytonutrients known as flavonoids that have an exceptionally antioxidant potency. As an antioxidant, kaempferol has been linked to the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer. Antioxidants balance the effects of free radicals in the body which are formed as the body metabolises the food we eat into energy. These molecules are negatively charged and as they try to lose this charge by passing it into other molecules in the body which cause damaging effects at a cellular level which is the precursor to chronic diseases. Research has shown that Kaempferol also helps regulate healthy cells and activates apoptosis in cancer cells which is their programmed death.
The vitamin content of endives are also impressive, the amount in this recipe will give you more than your rdi of Vitamin K which is a key nutrient for bone health. It is also high in Vitamin A which is good for boosting your immunity and maintaining healthy eye health too. Lastly, there is a good amount of folate too which is a B Vitamin that supports healthy cell production.
A great rosemary dressing
For a salad, the dressing is often the star of the show. What we wanted to do here is really showcase the endives so we have just kissed this salad with a rosemary olive oil with a touch of mustard and slow-roasted garlic and citrus for sweetness. We think that this compliments the other components of onion, sundried tomato and capers perfectly too.
Of course, you can add whatever dressing you like and we have a great vegan Caesar salad dressing that would coat the endives for a tangy and velvety finish.
For our simple dressing, however, rosemary really imparts a beautiful pinewood aroma which has been linked to enhancing a calm mood. It not only has a wonderful flavour but used in quite a large amount as with this dressing recipe it has some good medicinal values too. It is a good source of Calcium and iron and vitamins A, C and B6. An extra virgin olive oil is the vessel for this flavour and of course is noted as being a part of a Mediterranean diet which is one of the healthiest on the planet.
More delicious and healthy salads on the blog
Have you made this braised endive salad recipe?
- 4 Belgian endives, cut into thirds lengthways
- ¼ of a cup of sundried tomatoes, sliced
- 2 tablespoons of capers
- ½ a red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup of sourdough croutons
- Garnish of fresh herbs such as basil and parsley (optional)
- For the dressing:
- 180ml of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cups of fresh spinach
- 1 clove of roasted garlic
- ½ a teaspoon of English mustard
- Juice of 1 lemon
For the dressing
Combine all the ingredients together and use a stick blender to process until smooth.
For the salad ingredients
Pour some olive oil in a pan and on medium heat saute the endive thirds for about 3-4 minutes on each three sides until lightly browned. Set aside.
Plate up the endives and equally divide the onion, capers and sundried tomatoes and sprinkle over the top. Equally portion the croutons over and serve with the dressing.
Garnish with fresh herbs.