The little endives I got from the vegetable automat nearby were too pretty to chop up in a salad or wrap up in ham—so I tried my hand at making an Endive Tarte Tatin
I say ‘tried my hand’ because I’ve tasted some pretty unsavory ‘savory’ tarte tatins where the vegetables were undercooked or oversweet (from as much caramel as you’d add to an apple tarte tatin) and/or the whole thing was gooey from too much cheese. What I was going for was the bitter-sweet lusciousness of deeply braised endives paired with my two favorite endive salad add-ins: hazelnuts (or walnuts) and cheese. All tucked into a crispy-buttery crust.
An ovenproof skillet (cast iron or nonstick – I adore my Le Creuset skillet) makes the upside down tart extra-easy because you can caramelize the endive on the stovetop before baking the whole thing off in the oven.
PS: You can make the tart vegan by omitting the cheese and using a non-dairy based puff pastry like Pepperidge Farm.
9-10 small Belgian endives, or 5-6 large ones
3 Tbs./45 g. butter or oil
3 Tbs./45 g. sugar
2 Tbs./30 ml. cider vinegar
¼ to 1/3 cup (50 – 60 g.) hazelnuts or walnuts noisettes ou noix
4 – 6 oz. goat cheese, feta, or blue cheese, crumbled
1 sheet prepared puff pastry, thawed if necessary
Using a knife tip, cut out the cone-shaped core from the base of each endive and discard. Arrange the endives in an 8 or 9-inch ovenproof skillet to make sure they fit snugly. Remove the endives, and set aside
Heat the butter or oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with sugar, then add the endives (cut side down if they are halved), and cook 5 to 8 minutes, or until the endives are deep brown and caramelized on one side. Check that they are cooked, then add 1 ½ cups water to the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium low, then let the endives simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are tender and all the liquid has evaporated. (You will hear them start to sizzle.) Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, then remove from the heat and let cool ½ hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400˚F/200˚C. If using a square or rectangle-shaped sheet of puff pastry, gently pull it into a shape that is as close to round as possible with your hands.
Fill in any spaces between the endives with hazelnuts/nuts, and then dot them with cheese. Place the puff pastry overtop, folding the edges and pressing them against the pan to make a thicker border. Prick the puff pastry several times with the tip of a knife, then bake the tart 10 minutes. Lower the oven heat to 350˚F/180˚C, and continue to bake 20 to 25 minutes more, or until the crust is a deep brown. Cool 10 minutes before unmolding and serving. To bake ahead and reheat, do not unmold the tart. Instead, leave it in the skillet, then reheat it at 350˚F/180˚C for 15 minutes before unmolding.