Grilled Belgian Endive
The best-known way to cook radicchio di Treviso is over a slow wood or charcoal fire, basting the lettuce with olive oil as it wilts gradually to a pliant, tender consistency; the flame must not be allowed to char it. It can also be done successfully on an indoor grill, as described here.In America, I have only rarely seen radicchio di Treviso, and then at frightfully high prices. The round radicchio that looks like a little red cabbage is more available, but it too is quite expensive, and it is perhaps better raw than cooked. In my opinion, the most satisfactory substitute for the skinny Treviso radicchio is that far more abundant member of the same chicory family, Belgian endive.
The one ingredient for which there is no acceptable alternative in this dish is good olive oil, whose irreplaceable flavor must seep into the endive as it softens slowly over, or under, the fire.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party
Recipe Courseside dish
Dietary Considerationside dish
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturesavory
Type of Dishvegetable
- 5 thick heads endive, about 1½ pounds
- Black pepper in a grinder
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Turn on the broiler.
Discard any of the endive’s bruised or wilted outer leaves. Cut away a thin slice from the root end to remove the usually discolored surface portion of the stem. Wash the endive under cold running water, then shake off the moisture.
Cut each head of endive in half lengthwise. Make a cut in the root end, cutting half as deep as the root is thick and running the cut from the bottom to where the leaves join the root.
Place the endive cut side up on a broiling pan. Sprinkle liberally with salt and grindings of pepper and pour the olive oil over it in a thin stream. Insert the pan in the broiler at the level farthest away from the heat.
After 10 minutes, turn the endive over and baste with the oil in the pan.
After 7 or 8 minutes, turn the endive over once more so the cut side will again be facing up. Baste again with the oil from the pan, directing it, as much as possible, between one leaf and another, and adding fresh, raw oil if necessary.
Bake for about 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the endive. It is done when you can easily pierce the root end with a fork. Expect the tips of the leaves to be somewhat blackened. It is not only acceptable, but desirable. Serve hot or even lukewarm.
1986 Marcella Plini Hazan and Victor Hazan