Thursday, November 29, 2007

The whitest salad U know

Endive is the dry white toast of the chicory family. It reminds me of a time when one said the word gourmet without irony, and Craig Claiborne was still alive (...and therefore the ancient Blues Brothers reference is perfectly appropriate). However: it's actually pretty damn good, and you can get non-bitter greens-eating people to eat it raw, which comes in handy this time of year, when lettuce verges on inedible for a few months.

Years ago (but well after the deaths of Claiborne and Belushi), a friend gave me Peggy Knickerbocker's Olive Oil cookbook and said don't laugh (not at Peggy, at the gimmicky single-subject Chron Books format), it's actually really good, and she was right. Of course I was such a douche that I didn't believe her until she cooked for me, but the point is that I'm converted, and this salad was one of the things that did it.

Fennel-Endive Salad
from (imperfect) memory: quantities may vary

  • 3 heads endive
  • 1 big-ass fennel
  • 1/2 small white onion
  • parmigiano
  • lemon/garlic/salt/olio (duh) dressing
Wash everything. Slice the onion and fennel (lengthwise) very fine; use a mandoline or knife skills. There is some debate about the ideal thickness of the fennel. Probably the thinner the better, but you want to retain a little crunch to pair with the endive. Living in an Eritrean neighborhood with leaky windows has sorely tested my raw onion tolerance; I recommend rinsing the hell out of the onion and soaking it in acidulated water for a few minutes. Drain well of course. Layer the whole endive leaves with the fennel and onion, shave off a good amount of parmigiano on top, and dress liberally. Coarse black pepper.

The whole point is the whiteness, resist the temptation to buy red Endive, which also costs twice as much for some reason. Orange zest might be good.


It's been a few years since I've been able to bring myself to follow food policy, but I must say I find it ironic that IRRI is privatizing its hybrid rice research the same week that agricultural biodiversity gets a little traction in this Times article. Cf. this Seabrook article on a different Umbrian preservationist. Looking in my archives, I find I was irritated at the time because he seemed not to understand basic genetics... Hard to remember why I was so angry.

Also! How sad/awesome/convenient is it to have google blog search tell you what you're supposed to think about things you've forgotten about?

Speaking of which, Schlosser reports today on the latest shenanigans of our own little slave economy down in Florida. In case you've forgotten what you're supposed to think about that that, I got you covered. Someone needs to go down to South Florida and get Tony Montana on these motherfuckers.

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Blogger samin said...

lovelovelove that article on the umbrians. thank you for that.

and, i had a really great salad last night (not white) with persimmon, fennel, pistachio and cilantro. so very delicious.

and i thought you might like this: my dad told me the other day that he used to think that i kind of hated him, but after reading my blog for a few years, he now knows that i'm just bitterly sarcastic about everything and that he can't take it personally. you've taught me well, m.

Sat Dec 01, 03:29:00 PM GMT  

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