06 May 2017

Quelle salade !

No, I don't mean « salade » in the French metaphorical sense — a tangle, a muddle, a mess. "Oh what a mess" the world is these days. We are all feeling it, one way or another. What twists and turns will the French presidential election contribute to the "salad"? We shall see.

What I was really thinking of when I said « salade » was something we recently ate as salad that we'd never eaten that way before. It was a salad of Belgian endive, but not of the kind you might know and either love or hate. That would be une salade d'endives aux betteraves. Toasted walnuts or pecans are a good addition.

Many people I know feel strongly about both endives and betteraves (beets, we call them in America, or "red beets"). A lot of people find beets especially unpalatable. They really don't like them when they come out of a can, as they often do in the U.S. I've never seen canned beets in France — at least not that I can remember.

They are sold cooked, though, most of the time, and either just displayed in a crate in market stands or supermarket produce departments, or "shrink-wrapped" in plastic. The best way to prepare beets is to buy them uncooked, wrap them in foil, and cook them in the oven. It takes a while, but the flavor is much superior to any other version.

Okay, back to endives. Belgian endives, they are called in the U.S., where most people have never eaten them — not served raw as salad greens, and not served cooked with, say, a cheese sauce. Walt and I both love them both ways, and I think most people in France and Belgium do too.


So a week or two ago, I bought a bag of fresh, raw endives at the supermarket. I was going to use them as salad greens — they are really good with salad ingredients like crumbled blue or Roquefort cheese, diced onion or shallot, toasted walnuts, or cooked bacon lardons. Trouble was, we were eating a lot of other green vegetables at the time, so I never got around to making the endives into salad.


I finally realized I'd better cook them so they wouldn't spoil so fast. I cooked them in simmering water with white wine, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, until they were tender. Then I browned them in a frying pan in a mixture of olive and sunflower oil. Often, I cook them in butter, but in the back of my mind was the idea that cooked endives might make a good cold salad, and you don't usually have melted butter in salads. This would also be a good way of preparing them for the freezer.

So a few days later, we ate some of the endives as a salad, with a dressing of olive oil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Guess what — they were really good done that way. I'll do it again soon. Another expression in French is « raconter des salades » — "to tell a mess of lies"... This is not an example of that.

14 comments:

  1. Interesting to have cold, cooked endives as a salad. Just like you I have never done that. I must try it one of these days. Of course, one of my all time favorites is the raw endives with red beets. Hum, delicious.

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    1. The cold, cooked endives would be good with any vinaigrette, but I think the balsamic vinegar really made it good.

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  2. Replies
    1. They are always available here and inexpensive, and good cooked and served in different ways.

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  3. I really love endive and we ate it when we lived in Germany in the '70s. Here, I do see it for sale, but it is really pricey which is not surprising considering how one raises them, but keeps me choosing other ingredients. How long do you cook the beets in foil, and at what temperature?

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    1. I think you would cook beets, wrapped in foil or in a covered dish, at about 350°F, until they are tender when pierced with a skewer or knife. I always buy them cooked here in France.

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  4. I want to try the beets in the oven. I remember eating them boiled and fresh from the garden. I love them hot or cold.

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    1. I guess I should try them served hot, maybe with melted butter. I have eaten them hot in borscht, with beef — really good.

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  5. Now, this, I would not have thought of -- but, I trust you :)

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    1. Shall I serve them when you visit?

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  6. I love beets any way I can get them, including out of a can. The salad looks delicious.

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  7. I eat endives either raw or sliced in half and fried in olive oil. Love them both ways.

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  8. Cooked beets in the supermarché was one of the many delights I found in France. In fact I believe on that visit we saw you and Walt just after you moved to your little piece of heaven. I also seem to recall a wonderful lunch in your yard....

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  9. I hadn't thought of that version of endive salad in a long time. Thanks. Love fresh beets.
    I buy endive occasionally when I can find it, but have learned that the grocery cashiers don't know what it is so they can't look up the price. Thus, I've learned to describe it as "end-dive". Then I go into a mni-infomercial about how good it is chopped and added to a green salad.

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