The way this recipe came about is rather convoluted. It all began months ago when I came across an interesting recipe on Leite's Culinaria for chicken braised with saffron, cinnamon, and lavender. Supposedly the recipe reflected the way aromatic spices were used in Islamic Spain. Jessica was going to come over for dinner so I decided to prepare this exotic dish for the two of us. To go along with it I thought a salad would be nice and taking a cue from the Spanish roots of the meal, I picked up a wedge of Manchego cheese to crumble into it.
The recipe turned out to be sort of labor intensive and by the time Jessica had arrived, I was sort of over the whole thing. I decided not to make the salad and then when I served and tasted the chicken I have to say, I was unimpressed. The recipe noted that the flavors tend to develop more over night so the next day when I reheated it, I was optimistic. This time I did make the salad and after some research as to what flavors go well with Manchego cheese (quince paste) I came up with an idea for a dressing - Quince vinagrette. Doesn't that sound good? And I just so happened to have a jar of quince preserves in my refrigerator (which in the past I used to make a delicious quince and red wine sauce for lamb chops.) I found a recipe for a quince vinaigrette that used balsamic vinegar, however once I made it, it tasted too sweet.
Yet another disappointment although I still liked the idea of a vinaigrette made with quince. I decided that perhaps the vinegar needed to be more subtle. I went out and picked up a bottle of champagne vinegar and made another batch and bingo! This time it was great. The quince vinaigrette recipe that sort of spawned this idea suggested tossing the dressing with bitter greens. I didn't have any bitter greens, but I did have some endive that I didn't know what to do with.
So, in much the same way that Reece's Peanut Butter Cups were born (Hey! You got chocolate in my peanut butter. Hey! You got peanut butter on my chocolate. Wait a minute...) we now have grilled endive with Quince Vinaigrette.
See, I told you it was convoluted.
(for the vinaigrette)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons quince paste or preserves
juice of half a lemon
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
(for the endive)
4 head of Belgian endive, sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
First make the vinaigrette. In a small jar with a srew top, combine the oil, vinegar, quince, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Shake jar to emulsify. If the mixture seems too thick, add a teaspoon or two of water.
To cook the endive, brush a cast iron grill pan with some olive oil and preheat over high heat. Next brush the endive all over with some more olive oil. When the pan is hot, add the endive, cut side down and cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minuntes. Turn the endive over and cook for another 5 minutes or so.
Transfer endive to a serving plate and drizzle with the vinaigrette.
Grilling the endive seems to cut its bitterness a little and gives it a nice smokey flavor which is complemented by the sweetness of the quince and the tang of the champagne vinegar. (In fact, the vinaigrette would be great tossed with a salad)