I had so much fun creating a recipe for December's Kitchen Play event that I thought I should try my hand at a recipe from this month's gathering, sponsored by California Endive. Frankly, I don't know if I've ever had endive before, but this seemed like as good a reason as any, so I jumped right in.
Wicked Good Dinner's recipe for citrus-braised endive (the amuse bouche entry on Kitchen Play) immediately intrigued me, and I thought it was perfect for this time of year. As I read through the recipe, though, I thought that the flavors would make a great pasta sauce as well, so I changed the recipe around to become a whole meal.
I'm so happy with how this dish turned out. The flavor combination is unique and unexpected but so harmonious. The final dish is sweet and salty, bitter and unctuous, soft and crispy - there are just so many good things going on! This dish serves 2, but could easily be doubled.
Citrus-Braised Endive Pasta (adapted from Wicked Good Dinner)
2 Tbsp honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small grapefruit, zested and juiced
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 white endives
1/2 cup (3-4 slices) minced bacon
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 oz of penne (or other pasta shapes) (about 1/3 of a box)
1 orange or grapefruit, supremed (I used a blood orange)
1 avocado, cubed
Whisk together the honey, garlic, grapefruit zest and juice, ginger, and vinegar and set aside.
In a medium pot, bring salted water to a boil and add endive. Cook for 4 minutes, then remove from pot and cool slightly; chop into 1/2-inch pieces (I discarded some of the tips of the outer leaves that had turned brown while boiling). Set aside. Discard water (it will be bitter) and refill pot. Bring water to a boil for pasta.
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium-high until crispy. Remove bacon pieces and drain on a paper towel. Add pasta to boiling water and cook according to package. Add olive oil to the remaining bacon fat in the pan, then add endive and spread it across the bottom of the pan. Allow to cook 3 minutes or so until it begins to caramelize, then toss the whole mixture and allow to caramelize on the other side for another 3 minutes or so. Remove endive from pan. Add honey mixture to the pan and bring to a boil, whisking up all the little bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat and cook 3 minutes, until reduced. Add endive, bacon, orange wedges, avocado, and cooked pasta and toss to coat (you can add a few tablespoons of the pasta water to create a little more sauce). Salt and pepper to taste.