I always forget how much I love Belgian endive.
Then I eat it and wonder why I don’t buy it more often. I love it’s crunchy, just slightly bitter flavor. That texture and flavor is a great match for these Endive Spears with Sweet Potato, Bacon and Chives appetizer. The long leaves make a perfect little boat to hold this delicious filling. (This rocket shaped lettuce is pronounced, “On-Deeve“, not to be confused with “N-Dive”, which is the curly variety.)
I made this a few years ago for a little get together with friends. I went a little crazy with appetizer recipes that evening. I remember when my friends walked into the kitchen and saw the island filled with choices. They asked me if anyone else was coming lol! Um, no, just our little group…hope you’re hungry :) That’s pretty typical, making more than I need to and using any opportunity when there are more people in the house to try out different recipes.
I love this recipe because it looks impressive and sophisticated (it’s on-deeve, darling ;) yet it’s easy to make, easy to assemble and the flavors are familiar. There’s a short list of ingredients, and once you get everything chopped and prepped, it’s just some cooking in a frying pan then filling your leaves. I bought a package of endive that had both white and purple heads in it. I love the extra pop of deep purple as a contrast to the orange of the sweet potato and the pale white and yellow green of the other leaves.
When I made this to shoot it, I served it to my family that night as our appetizer. (No, we don’t do apps on a normal night, but it was a lot of fun to have one readily available that evening.) I remember taking the foil cover off of the tray that I had them displayed on…my son gasped! Mom! What did you make for us? I’ve never had that before! Actually, he did have an opportunity to have “that” before, but he was still in his picky eating stage, so I’m pretty sure he didn’t go near it. (Thankfully that phase is O-ver!)
My daughter asked if it had onions in it. (No, it has chives in it :) For whatever reason, onions are not acceptable, but scallions, shallots and chives? They’re okay. I’ve told her multiple times that onions are an aromatic and that I will always cook with them. They add so much flavor! They’re essential to mirepoix and the Holy Trinity of Cajun/Creole cooking! So, I don’t take them out for her. She usually just eats them or if they’re big enough to find, she picks them out. But that day, we were cooking with chives; she was cool with that.
Once we got past the initial wow and the inspection for any unwanted ingredients, they dove in…along with my husband, who, by the way, doesn’t “like” sour cream. It didn’t appear to be an obstacle in this dish. Before I knew it, they were putting multiples on their plates and asking for more. Yum! Does this have bacon in it? What is this leaf thing called? Wait, how do you say it again? Can I have another one? Whoa, Betty! Just slow down for a minute! I hadn’t even gotten one on my own plate while the serving dish was quickly emptying.
It was a success at my little dinner party and it was a success (and surprise) at our Monday night dinner. You get crispy salty bacon, the tender sweetness of the potato, contrasted with the crunchy, slightly bitter endive and the cool and creamy sour cream. And of course, the chives add that perfect mild onion flavor. Endive Spears with Sweet Potato, Bacon and Chives…If you’re looking for a new idea for an appetizer for Thanksgiving, or your next dinner party or even Monday night dinner ;) …this one makes a very pretty…
and deliciously perfect little bite.
Endive Spears with Sweet Potato, Bacon and Chives
- 3 slices bacon thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 small sweet potato peeled and cut into 1/4" dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives divided
- 2 medium heads Belgian endive
- 1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
- Cook the bacon in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until its rendered some of its fat, about 3-4 minutes. Add the sweet potato and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the sweet potato is tender and the bacon starts to crisp, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of the chives (reserving the remaining for garnish) and season with more salt and pepper to taste.
- Slice the bottom 1/2" off the endive heads so some of the outer leaves break free. Cut another 1/2" off and break more leaves free. Keep going until most of the larger leaves are free. (You should have about 20 leaves.) You can trim the leaves to make them even, but I didn't want to cut any more off the leaves.
- Set the endive leaves on a large platter. Spoon the sweet potato mixture near the base of the leave. Top each with a dollop of sour cream then sprinkle on the remaining chives. Serve immediately or let sit up to 20 minutes before serving.
*I used a snipped off plastic zip top bag to place my sour cream on each leaf, but you can just use a spoon, if you prefer.
*If you want to get a head start, you can make the filling ahead, but stop cooking about 2-3 minutes before you think it's done and don't add in the chives. Let it cool, then store, covered in the refrigerator. When you're ready to serve, put the filling back in a skillet, with a bit of oil or cooking spray, to finish cooking, reheat and recrisp. Stir in the fresh chives and proceed with recipe. Do not cut endive ahead of time or it will begin to brown. Just cut it when you are ready to assemble and serve.
*Any leftover endive leaves are delicious just tossed with a simple vinaigrette. I used mine for a quick side salad for lunch.
Recipe from Fine Cooking Appetizers, 2009
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