By Edward Schneider
Jackie and I hadn’t had a Spanish-type rice dish (I daren’t say paella lest it be pointed out that I am misusing the word) in a while, and when I was thinking about one on the way home it occurred to me that whole heads of Belgian endive might cook nicely if nestled into the rice and other ingredients. So I bought a couple. In addition to rice, the ingredients into which I slipped them were previously cooked pork shoulder, red bell peppers, vegetable stock and the usual p**lla aromatics: strongish flavors, all, especially with the sprig of rosemary I tossed in.
From a technical standpoint, the endive worked beautifully. It was cooked but not at all mushy – still slightly crisp in fact. Nice and juicy, with good bitterness down at the stem end and that almost-sweet mildness toward the tip. Fun to eat, too.
The thing is, it wasn’t really well integrated into the dish. There was the pork and pepper p**lla, and then there was this delicious Belgian endive tasting of Spain.
So, here’s what I have to tell you: next time you are making a p**lla that is light rather than hearty – a seafood or spring vegetable one, perhaps, with not too much by way of sofrito or strong seasonings – tuck in one small head of Belgian endive per person along with the other ingredients. That, I promise you, will be a treat.