In Winter, Take the Bitter With the Sweet

In Winter, Take the Bitter With the Sweet


But for a spectacular pairing of flavors, I suggest a sweet connection between radicchio and citrus.

Citrus is at its peak now, so destiny prevails. My favorite combination for this salad is blood oranges, navel oranges, ruby grapefruit and kumquats, but you can pick and choose. A small serrated paring knife will help to remove the peel and pith of the fruits easily. Then simply slice them and arrange them among the red leaves in all their colorful glory.

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White endives are juicy and fresh in salads, pleasantly bittersweet when cooked.

Credit
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

All that remains is to whisk up a little dressing with some chopped shallot and grapefruit juice. Use olive oil or walnut oil, and add some toasted walnuts. The sweet-sour-bitter-nutty combination is extremely seductive.

Chicories come in other shapes and colors. Green escarole is a member of the family (as is frisée, curly endive).

The Belgian endive is a pale ivory, and its leaves are tightly packed into pointed, torpedolike heads. Endives (there are also red-hued and frilly fringed yellow versions) are great for salads. Some find them a bit less bitter than radicchio. I don’t find raw endive bitter at all; the leaves to me are crisp, juicy and refreshing.

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Broiled in cream, faintly bitter endives take on a caramelized richness.

Credit
Karsten Moran for The New York Times

Cooking turns eating them into an altogether different experience, with a complex flavor that reminds me of artichokes. In Belgium and France, roasted or gratinéed endive is a common side dish.

Choose medium to small endives, split them lengthwise top to bottom, and they are ready to cook. First they are browned in butter, then slathered with crème fraîche and broiled until nearly, but not quite, burnt.

This is a simple riff on an old French “comfort food” recipe for endive à la crème, a homey gratin with cream and bits of ham. Without the ham baked in, it makes an excellent first course, perhaps draped with a bit of prosciutto; or it may reside happily alongside a piece of roasted chicken or fish. The taste of broiled endive is revelatory if you’ve never tried it: The endive becomes both creamy and caramelized, and the combined layers of flavor are exquisite.

Recipes: Caramelized Endives With Crème Fraîche | Winter Citrus and Red Chicories Salad

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