Though the summer is on the wane now, and the school is just a few weeks away, we are enjoying a plethora of salads and light appetizers as nobody fancies anything too heavy. Endive boats are among my favourite appetizers for the ease of assembling and possible variations of ingredients, just add your preferred cubed cheese and nuts, drizzle with an olive oil & balsamic vinegar dressing, and enjoy.
Endive boats with candied walnuts, Wensleydale cheese and cranberries
9 endive leaves
for candied walnuts (there will be plenty left):
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
1tsp golden syrup
1tbsp maple syrup
100g Wensleydale cheese with cranberries
a handful of dried sweetened cranberries like Craisins
Start by soaking the separated endive leaves in cold water, for at least an hour, to remove the bitterness and make them more crispy.
Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, golden syrup and maple syrup, and coat the walnuts well. Fry in a small pan for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Then spread the walnuts on a tray, covered with the foil, and put in the oven preheated to 180C for 10 minutes, until dry.
Remove the endive leaves from the water and pat dry them. Place a few candied walnut pieces in each endive boat, add the cubed cheese and dried cranberries.
Drizzle over with the dressing made of the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey.
Serve as an appetizer.
You can substitute the Wensleydale cheese with a blue cheese like Dolcelatte or Gorgonzola, or feta. Use different nuts too. I like to add toasted pine nuts to this dish.
In this recipe I used Filippo Berio olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Filippo Berio is one of my favourite brands, and I have written about their products in the past already. I love the history behind the range. The founder of the famous olive oil company was born in 1829 in Tuscany. The name of Berio is a gaurantee of the high quality. It is well known and much loved throughout the world, as well as in its native Italy.
Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil is available in all major supermarkets. It has a unique rich and fruity flavour, and is an excellent ingredient for many dishes from salads to baking.
It is perfect for all kinds of dressings and marinades. And of course, it is just lovely for dipping a chunk of bread in. If you've been to the Italian restaurants and cafes, you were most likely indulging in a plain but oh-so-delicious starter of breads offered with a dish of olive oil with a good balsamic vinegar. If you loved it, what stops you from recreating the experience at home?
Filippo Berio Balsamic Vinegar is an affordable yet tasty balsamic vinegar from Modena, it is tangy and sweet, quite smooth. It is made from specially selected Modena grapes and is aged in oak barrels.
This is another versatile ingredient for cooking, from marinades to dressings, from rich stews to roasts.
I have also been testing a new Little Salad Shaker from OXO (available from Lakeland). It is a cute little kitchen gadget, which allows you to make a dressing in a flash, just add your favourite ingredients, shake the bottle and pour the dressing. The top is easily removed to accommodate a range of ingredients. Made from Tritan, this dressing shaker is dishwasher safe and BPA-free. At 1 cup (250ml) capacity, you can make as much or as little of the dressing as you need. The seal is airtight and leakproof, so shake to your heart's content, then flip the tip, and pour.
Endive boats all disappeared very fast, and we all agreed that they were delicious.
Disclosure: I received two OXO products and two bottles of Filippo Berio products.