© Jody Horton
Endive spears with ricotta and lemon
A simple recipe that's also pretty and delicious
Any dinner party or gathering can use a nice platter of fresh endive spears with a good ricotta cheese and lemon zest. It’s always a winner.
Ricotta is made from the whey after the curds are strained in the cheese-making process and it’s being increasingly made locally in many parts of the US. Its attractively soft, smooth texture and flavour makes ricotta a favourite ingredient for desserts in Italy, such as cannoli and cheesecake.
12 oz. (375 g) ricotta (see chef’s notes)
pinch of salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
24 red or white Belgian endive spears, about 2½ inches (6.25 cm) long (3 or 4 heads endive)
baby watercress leaves, for garnish
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, salt and pepper, and keep chilled. Gently rinse the endive spears under cold running water and then wipe them dry with a paper towel.
Lay the endive spears on a clean platter. Scoop the ricotta with a teaspoon and place in the middle of each spear, using another teaspoon to help push off the ricotta onto the spear.
Using a microplane or fine grater, grate zest from the lemons over the ricotta and endive spears. Top each with a watercress leaf. Serve chilled. This appetizer can be prepared up to 3 hours in advance and kept loosely covered in the refrigerator. Makes 24 spears (or serves 8).
You’ll find fresh ricotta in finer cheese sections and it’s worth the investment if you really want to make an impression with this recipe. Belgian endive is a form of chicory and one of the most flavourful. When buying heads of endive, prepare by cutting the core from the spears about ½ inch (1.25 cm) from the bottom then carefully pull the leaves apart.
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