About a month ago, I received a box of California endive from the wonderful people at Discover Endive! Inside the box was a bouquet of red and white endive as well as two packages of endive to play with in the kitchen. I had never seen endive still attached to the root ball and it made for a striking surprise bouquet right before Valentine’s Day (wow, has it really been over a month!). I know my friend Liren of Kitchen Confidante posted a lovely photograph of her endive bouquet and, if you travel the food blog circuit, you may have seen others, unfortunately, the bouquet I received must have traveled on the pony express because it took a beating 😉
There are so many ways you can use endive and in February the web was ablaze with endive recipes from a talented group of food bloggers called the OnDivas who used their mega watts of creativity to shine a light on under-appreciated endive. One easy way to appreciate the crunchy, slightly bitter leaves of endive is as a “scooper” for tuna, egg salad, and dips – it’s great as a quick lunch or snack and adds a delightful, satisfying crispness that I always enjoy, plus, its lower in calories, carbs, and fats than chips or crackers.
What is endive? As indicated by Discover Endive!, “endive is a member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole and curly endive. It is often called the queen of vegetables and is prized the world over. It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness — great served raw or cooked.”
- a good source of beta-carotene, which the body coverts into vitamin A
- a good source of heart-healthy potassium — one head of endive delivers over 50% of the potassium found in a banana
- high in complex fiber
Today’s recipe is for a Quinoa Tabbouleh that substitutes vibrant red quinoa for the bulghur wheat traditionally used in tabbouleh. Not only is tabbouleh naturally gluten free, but it’s also heart healthy, vegan, dairy-free and makes a perfect light, nutritious snack or appetizer. White quinoa is more commonly found in markets and works just as well, if red quinoa is not available. If you haven’t tried quinoa, you absolutely must – it cooks quickly and is easily incorporated into veggie burgers, salads, and even breakfast dishes. It goes over well with kids and the uninitiated because of its mild, nutty flavor. Middle Eastern and Moroccan flavors satisfy me when I’m craving exotic edibles, so a bit of my go-to Moroccan spice, Ras el Hanout, adds a subtle flavor and depth to the tabbouleh, just as it does in the 5-Minute Spicy Hummus I make.
Red Quinoa Tabbouleh
• 1/2 cup quinoa (red or white), rinsed
• 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout*
• 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
• 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
• 4 ounces of grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 1 cup)
• 1/2 English cucumber, diced
• 1 red pepper, roasted and chopped
Yield: 4-6 servings
1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, in a small cast-iron skillet (if possible), toast the quinoa over moderately-high heat until the grains give off a nutty aroma and start to pop. Slowly add the quinoa into the boiling water, taking care that the pot doesn’t boil over. Turn it down to a simmer, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, 12 to 15 minutes – red quinoa may take about 5 minutes longer. Remove it from the heat and allow to cool. Alternatively, you can use quinoa cooked according to package directions or use leftover quinoa.
2. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, Ras el Hanout (*other Moroccan spice mixture or fresh ground nutmeg) and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Combine the parsley, mint, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, and the cooled cooked quinoa in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Taste for seasoning, and let sit for about 5 minutes before you serve. (This tastes even better the next day!)
Serve the tabbouleh in the center of a platter encircled with endive. Romaine leaves for tabbouleh lettuce wraps are also good.
*Ras el Hanout is a traditional Moroccan blend of herbs and spices, popular across the Middle East and North Africa. The name means “head of the shop” in Arabic and represents the very pinnacle of spice blends. Ingredients include saffron, paprika, cumin, ginger, coriander, tumeric, fennel seed, and allspice to name a few. You may substitute cumin, but I highly recommend adding this Ras el Hanout to your array of spices.
In case you’re not familiar with quinoa (or tabbouleh), but want to work more whole grains into your diet, here’s some information from The Food Lover’s Companion.
What is quinoa?
Although quinoa is new to the American market, it was a staple of the ancient Incas, who called it “the mother grain.” To this day it’s an important food in South American cuisine. Hailed as the “supergrain of the future,” quinoa contains more protein than any other grain. It’s considered a complete protein because it contains all eight essential amino acids. Quinoa is also higher in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most grains, and it provides a rich and balanced source of vital nutrients. Tiny and bead-shaped, the ivory-colored quinoa cooks like rice (taking half the time of regular rice) and expands to four times its original volume. Its flavor is delicate, almost bland, and has been compared to that of couscous. Quinoa is lighter than but can be used in any way suitable for rice — as part of a main dish, a side dish, in soups, in salads and even in puddings. It’s available packaged as a grain, ground into flour and in several forms of pasta. Quinoa can be found in natural food stores and some supermarkets.
What is tabbouleh?
A Middle Eastern dish of bulghur wheat mixed with chopped tomatoes, onions, parsley, mint, olive oil and lemon juice. It’s served cold, often with a crisp bread such as lavosh.