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It’s endive season but what to do with it? This is another gem from Ottolenghi: the cookbook. You can prep it all in advance and finish it in the oven when your guests arrive. Our favourite starter for February!

Caramelised endive with Serrano ham – to serve 6 as a starter

  • 6 endives, cut in half lengthways
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 4 tsp caster sugar
  • 50g sourdough breadcrumbs
  • 70g Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 120ml whipping cream
  • 12 thin slices of Serrano ham
  • olive oil
  • 2 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley (only if you have some!)

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Get your largest frying pan to caramelise the endive in. You will need to do it in batches as they must be able to sit flat without touching. So put half the butter and sugar in the pan and put it over a high heat. Stir to mix. As soon as the butter starts to bubble, place 6 endive halves face down in the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes, until golden. You might need to press them down a bit. Don’t worry if your butter starts to brown. Repeat this with the rest of the endive halves, butter and sugar.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and arrange the endives on top, caramelised side up and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, thyme, cream, 1/4 tsp salt and a good grind of black pepper. Spoon this over the endives and top each one with a slice of the ham. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the endives feel soft. Serve hot or warm, drizzled with some olive oil and sprinkled with chopped parsley if you happen to have some.

Wine Suggestion: This is a hard one cause the dish is bitter, sweet, salty and savoury – in hindsight we thought a Grenache might work. Try and find a light, fruity and slightly spicy example from Spain to complement the Spanish ham.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi: the cookbook, Ebury Press, 2008.)

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