Food Stuff

Illustration By Marianne Mancina

A touch bitter this Valentine’s Day? A little endive might be what you need. Luckily, the only endive producer in the United States, California Vegetable Specialties, is right next-door in Rio Vista (founder Rich Collins grew up in Sacramento). You’ll find elegant pearl-white heads, as well as beautiful red endive, in local markets year-round. Much like love, endive grows in the dark. Light turns the leaves green and pungent. Try a chopped-endive salad with blue cheese and glazed walnuts, or fill whole leaves with crab or goat cheese for a pretty appetizer. Endive is also great when cooked in gratins or braises. And if February 14 finds you dining alone (or, simply, “à deux”), it’s hard to beat endive on toast: Quarter endives and sauté them in butter. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, lemon juice and a touch of sugar. Add cream, Gruyère cheese and parsley. Serve on toasted walnut bread. Comforting and a little recherché, this dish could start a bittersweet romance.