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Winter greens: try endive, radicchio, and escarole in these warm, simple dishes.

The chicory clan--Belgian endive, radicchio, and escarole--is sneaking into more and more produce sections. But raw might not be the best way for these greens to win us over; a little heat softens their bitter edge. In France, Belgian endive is commonly braised until it's tender and sweet. In Italy, red radicchio is sauteed or braised until it's limp and deeply flavored. The Italians also add escarole to soup for a fresh shot of green. We've picked up on all three approaches in this collection of warming winter dishes.

Escarole and White Bean Soup

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 30 minutes

MAKES: 8 cups; 4 servings
 8 ounces escarole
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 1 onion (8 oz.), peeled and chopped
 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/3 cup chopped prosciutto or Westphalian ham (1 oz.)
 5 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth
 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
 Salt and pepper
 Grated parmesan cheese


1. Cut base off escarole; rinse and drain leaves. Cut leaves crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips.

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2. Set a 4- to 5-quart pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add oil, onion, garlic, and prosciutto; stir often until onion is limp, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Add broth and beans, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in escarole and cook just until wilted, about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and offer cheese to add to taste.

Per serving: 196 cal., 25% (49 cal.) from fat; 19 g protein; 5.4 g fat (1 g sat.); 19 g carbo (6.2 g fiber); 360 mg sodium; 7.6 mg chol.

Linguine with Radicchio

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 30 minutes

MAKES: 3 or 4 servings

NOTES: Most radicchio sold in the United States is the Chioggia variety, which has a compact, round head. You may also find Treviso, though, with longer, romaine-shaped heads. Either works in this dish.
 8 ounces dried linguine
12 ounces radicchio (see notes)
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 1 red onion (8 oz.), peeled and cut into thin slivers
 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
 3 tablespoons whipping cream
 Grated parmesan cheese
 Salt and pepper
 Chopped Italian parsley (optional)


1. In a 5- to 6-quart covered pan over high heat, bring about 3 quarts water to a boil. Add linguine, stir to separate, and cook, uncovered, until barely tender to bite, about 9 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup cooking water. Rinse and dry pan.

2. Meanwhile, cut off bases of radicchio heads; rinse and drain leaves. Cut leaves into 1/4-inch-wide strips.

3. Set the pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add olive oil, onion, and garlic. Stir often until onion begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add radicchio and vinegar; stir until radicchio is limp, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cream, linguine, and enough of the reserved cooking water to moisten as desired. Stir until pasta is hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cheese and salt and pepper to taste; mix gently.

4. Transfer linguine to a serving bowl or plates. Sprinkle with parsley. Offer more cheese to add to taste.

Per serving: 342 cal., 29% (99 cal.) from fat; 9.4 g protein; 11 g fat (3.2 g sat.); 51 g carbo (2.8 g fiber); 29 mg sodium; 12 mg chol.

Braised Belgian Endive au Gratin

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 45 minutes

MAKES: 4 servings

NOTES: The braised endive is also delicious plain: Complete step 1 and serve with lemon wedges.
 4 heads white or red Belgian endive (4 to 5 oz. each)
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 Salt and pepper
 1 tablespoon butter
 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese (3 oz.)


1. Rinse Belgian endive; trim off any discolored bases. Cut heads in half lengthwise. Arrange the halves, cut side down, in a single layer in a heavy 11- to 12-inch frying pan. Add 1/4 cup water and the olive oil. Sprinkle endive lightly with salt and pepper. Cover pan and bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until endive is very tender when pierced, 12 to 20 minutes. Uncover and cook over medium heat, turning heads occasionally, until liquid is evaporated and endive is slightly browned, 6 to 10 minutes.

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2. Meanwhile, in a 1- to 2-quart pan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Stir in flour until blended and bubbly. Add milk and nutmeg; stir until mixture is boiling and thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Arrange endive in a single layer in a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Spoon sauce over the top. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.

4. Bake, uncovered, in a 400[degrees] oven until sauce is bubbling and lightly browned, 9 to 14 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 194 cal., 70% (135 cal.) from fat; 9.1 g protein; 15 g fat (7.2 g sat.); 6.9 g carbo (2.3 g fiber); 130 mg sodium; 38 mg chol.

RELATED ARTICLE: California endive

Its name comes from Belgium and its history from France, but endive has made a home in the West. California Vegetable Specialties, started in 1987, is the only American grower of the bitter green. Production begins in the spring, when the seeds are sown in various plots in Northern California. When winter comes, the plants are topped and the thick, carrot-shaped roots are dug up and put in cold storage--a temperature-controlled, dark, humid room where they're fed daily with a fertilizer solution. In three to four weeks, the roots sprout. Each produces a small, tight head--the endive as we know it.

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The pearly white color of most endive is the result of growing in complete darkness. Red endive is a cross with Treviso, a red chicory. Red and white are interchangeable in most recipes. Visit www.endive.com for more information.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

 
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Title Annotation:IN SEASON
Author:Anusasananan, Linda Lau
Publication:Sunset
Date:Feb 1, 2005
Words:1014
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