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Stuffed Endive Leaves

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I wanted to find a good use for all that yummy cream cheese that’s now in my fridge. I’m not usually a fan of fussy food, but I really love stuffed endive and thought we should give this recipe a shot. I also thought it would be a nice change from the usual salad bowl at dinner.

Stuffed Endive Leaves

(Nourishing Traditions, page 165)

  • leaves from 1 large Belgian endive
  • 1/3 cup radish, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon piima cream (page 84)
  • 1 tablespoon homemade cream cheese (page 87), softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon expeller-pressed flax oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
  • small parsley sprigs for garnish

I made minor changes to the ingredients, using parsley instead of watercress (since I had parsley in the garden, I thought Sally would be in favor of that switch) and adding some sea salt. I also confess that I really didn’t measure things, but think I came to close to the amounts listed above. By the way, this habit drives my husband crazy, who insists that if we don’t try a recipe the way it’s written how will we know what it’s supposed to taste like?? My apologies to those of you who prefer the scientific method.

Never heard of Belgian endive? It’s the leaves of the chicory root, grown in darkness and covered by a mound of dirt to keep sunlight from reaching it. The result is a crispy, creamy white head of a lettuce-like leaf, with a slightly bitter flavor. I always get a kick out of buying it because it stumps the high-schoolers at the check-out counter, who look at me blankly and say “Uh…, what is this??”

You want them to be firm and bright, yellowish-green at the tips (not brown).

The piima cream was a cinch to make. I already had my starter culture in the fridge, so just mixed a tablespoon into some cream and let it sit overnight.

The flax oil was the hardest part of this recipe for me. I haven’t eaten flax for years because it’s on my “do-not-consume” list of food allergens. I’ve never had to buy it so I was a bit baffled by all the options at our local health food store. So in the end I bought one that said it was expeller-pressed and organic, and was reasonably priced.

Expeller-pressing is a method of extracting oil from a nut or seed without using any chemicals extractives. I had always thought that cold-pressed meant the same thing as expeller-pressed, but apparently that isn’t so. So make sure your bottle says “expeller-pressed” in order to avoid that nasty hexane. (By the way, I love the part of this Wikipedia entry that lists the uses of hexane as shoe glue, leather products, roofing, oh! and to extract cooking oil from seeds.)

I also learned that adding flax oil to certain foods (like cultured dairy and cruciferous veggies–hello, Stuffed Endive!) can actually increase the absorption of essential fatty acids, and also aids in digestion. Who knew??

If you’re still not convinced as to why you should buy the flax seed oil for this recipe instead of substituting the olive oil you already have in the cupboard, here is a nice article from a nice western doc who is in total agreement with Sally’s use of flax oil.

This recipe got four thumbs up at the dinner table. I couldn’t eat it because of the dairy and the Pickle, who is three, had to be coerced into taking a bite before giving it a thumbs down. We had leftover endive so I served another batch the next night, making up a new stuffing with garlic and herbs from the garden. They enjoyed that one even more. I’m thinking that a third round with artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes might even entice the Pickle….then again maybe not. He IS three.

This recipe also gets all three stars for being affordable, easy and accessible. You can find all of the ingredients at any well-stocked grocery store or natural foods store.

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