GRILLED BELGIAN ENDIVE WITH FRESH TURMERIC AND WALNUTS
There is just one little moment of trickiness with this sauce: the garlic and fresh turmeric should sizzle and cook in the hot oil without browning—or, even worse, burning. If you keep a glass of water within reach, it should be no problem. A splash of water helps cool down everything and it also helps disperse the turmeric flavor and color.
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 thumb-size piece fresh turmeric, peeled and cut into a fine julienne
1/8 teaspoon nigella seeds
1/4 cup walnuts
4 heads Belgian endive
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Build a fire to grill the Belgian endive.
- Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven until they are a shade darker, about 8 minutes. Once they are cool, wrap them in a dish towel and peel some of the skins off. Chop them coarsely and set them aside.
- To make the sauce, heat a small pan over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the garlic and turmeric and immediately begin to shake the pan so that the garlic and turmeric sizzle. You want the turmeric and garlic to spend a moment or two in the hot oil, but you really don’t want them to get brown at all. Once they have sizzled for a few seconds, add the nigella, give the pan another quick shake, and add a couple of tablespoons of water. The whole thing should bubble for another few seconds, and all the liquid will turn bright yellow. Pour the contents of the pan into a bowl, using a rubber spatula to get as much out of the pan as possible. Add a pinch of salt, let cool for a moment, then add the walnuts and another couple tablespoons of oil. Set aside.
- To grill the endive, rake the coals under the grill for medium-hot grilling. Remove any brown or wilted outer leaves from the endive heads and cut them lengthwise into quarters. Brush all sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Depending on the size of the endives, they should take 12 to 15 minutes to cook.
- Grilling Belgian endive can be difficult because it is fairly dense and also a little bit sweet. That means it wants to get brown really fast without cooking all the way through, but you also don’t want the endive to be pale and gray. Ultimately, it should have a little crunch, but not a lot. To achieve this, you want the endive to spend most of the grilling time on the two cut sides so the heat can reach the interior and not too much time on the leafy side, where it will brown too quickly. You also should check when you first turn them to see how fast they are browning. You can always move the endive to a different part of the grill if it is going too fast or too slow. Or, if you are using a grill with some access, like a Tuscan grill, you can spread the coals out more thinly or pile them up under the vegetables. Remember, if you are paying attention, you can control everything almost immediately on a grill by moving the coals.
Note: The endive will look best if you have one clean set of grill marks on each side: that means you can move the endive quarters when you flip them to a different side, but try not to move them on the same side: they’ll taste fine but they won’t look as nice.
To serve, place the grilled endive on a platter. Spoon the sauce over the top and squeeze a little bit of lime juice over as well. This dish also tastes good at room temperature. If you serve it that way, wait until the last moment to add the sauce and squeeze the lime.