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Pairing Endive and Cheese

Raw endive leaves filled with fresh chevre and springkled with salt and cracked black pepper

You say “on-deev,” I say “on-dive”. . . and you’d be right. That is, as long as you’re talking about Belgian endive (a.k.a. French endive), the tight head of soft leaf spears beloved in Europe and catching on as a delicious, versatile veggie in the United States. Grown in a labor-intensive, two-step process (first in the field for rootstock, then in dark, cool, humid forcing rooms to produce the head), Belgian endive is the second growth of the chicory root. Lightly bitter and velvety soft, yet strong enough to use in place of chips for dips and toss like lettuce in salads, it can also be braised, roasted, baked, and grilled.

California Endive Farms (CEF) is the only Belgian endive grower in the US, producing about 4.5 million pounds per year. “It’s a rather long chain of important steps that need to go well to render a quality product,” says CEF owner Rich Collins. “We produce a white veggie. If it has a problem, it’s very apparent . . . there’s no place to hide!”

“My favorite ways to eat endive are raw in a salad or as an appetizer in lieu of crackers,” says CEF marketing assistant—and Collins’ daughter—Molly Collins. Read on for several of her pairing creations.

Raw Endive

Served raw, endive has a slightly bitter edge that counterbalances creamy cheeses such as chèvre, yet it also stands up to saltier, more robust cheeses like blues and feta. Spread cheese and any other accompaniments inside the concave leaf for an elegant, velvety-textured bread or cracker substitute. Voilà!

Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese
Original Blue


raw endive, sliced pear, and roasted walnuts

Redwood Hill Farm Fresh Chèvre

raw endive, salted pistachios, and drizzled honey

Sheep’s milk feta

raw endive, arugula, chopped peaches, slivered almonds, and vinaigrette

Cooked Endive

Heating endive tends to mellow the bitterness, producing an even softer, more subtle veggie that’s enhanced by a sprinkling or shaving of sharper cheeses—or complemented by a soft, rich cheese melted on top.

Vermont Creamery Coupole

baked endive

Ambrosi White Gold Parmigiano Reggiano

sautéed endive

This article originally appeared in our 2015 Cheese+ ultimate Pairings issue. If you’d like to see all 26 amazing cheese pairings, purchase a copy today!

Lassa Skinner

Lassa is a cheesemonger and one of the co-founders and owners of culture: the word on cheese. When not teaching classes on cheese and wine in Napa, Calif., you can find Lassa entreating fellow mongers to stock our magazine in their shops.

Photographer Evi Abeler

Evi Abeler is a food and still life photographer based in New York City. She helps art directors, cookbook authors and designers to communicate the love, passion and thought that goes into every project and creates modern, yet classic images. Her clients in advertising, publishing, hospitality and retail include Food & Wine Magazine (which named her Digital Food Award Winner), Harper Collins Publishing and Whole Foods Markets.

Stylist Laura Knoop

Laura Knoop is a New York City-based food stylist with a studio in Harlem.