I bought some endives [ã-deev] last week, thinking we might eat them as salad with ranch dressing or thousand island dressing. They're good served as salad with the kinds of dressings that are good with iceberg lettuce, and are a nice change. But instead we ended up making salads of leaf lettuce (batavia in French) and vinaigrette to have with our cheese fondue on Christmas eve and our oven-roasted guinea-fowl capon on Christmas day — not to mention the leftovers. What was I going to do with those Belgian endives? That's what we call them in the U.S., where they are not all that commonly cooked or served. They're a wintertime staple in France.
Instead of letting the endives go to waste, I figured cooking them was the best way to eat or preserve them. They can be frozen once they are cooked. The best way to cook them is to brown them lightly in a skillet in either butter or olive oil with garlic and then braise them in white wine until they're tender. Adding aspoonful of lemon juice or white wine vinegar to the wine gives the endives some tang and cuts their bitterness. Here's a link to a blog post that will lead you to a detailed recipe. Then it dawned on me that I might cook the braised endives in a casserole with tomato sauce instead of the cheese sauce that I usually make to bake them in. After the cheese fondue on Friday, we didn't need more cheese sauce. So tomato sauce it was, and it was delicious. Here's a short slide show.
These days it's hard to invent anything in the kitchen. Everything you can possibly think of is already in a cookbook or on the internet. And that was the case here. I found French recipes for endives in tomato sauce on the 'net, and this morning I found a recipe in English on a blog, based on a recipe in a book about French cooking. It's here. It says to braise the endives in water, but I can tell you they're better cooked in white wine. Then you can reduce the braising liquid and add it to your tomato sauce, which can be store-bought or home-made.