Recipe: Endive Baked with Marsala and Parmigiano Reggiano
Thanksgiving is not my favorite food holiday. Words that for me describe its tastes are mushy, sweet, and dry. I think the perfect Thanksgiving dinner would be a big piece of crisp turkey skin and a salad drizzled with gravy. Good cheese would improve things. In fact, what’s really missing from Thanksgiving is Parmigiano Reggiano. Its elegant presence and pineapple crunch can focus a meal and provide a taste destination to really look forward to.
So as an attempt to infuse Thanksgiving with a few grand Italian flavors, here’s an endive dish using two of Italy’s treasured ingredients, Parmigiano Reggiano and Marsala. It’s pleasantly bitter, a touch salty, but also light and full of unami. It slips right down, cutting through all the sweet potato build-up.
Happy Thanksgiving to you.
Endive Baked with Marsala and Parmigiano Reggiano
(Serves 6 or 7 as a side dish)
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 endives (on the small side)
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sugar
5 thyme sprigs, the leaves lightly chopped, plus a little extra for garnish
½ cup dry Marsala
¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a large sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and the butter over medium heat. When the mix gets foamy and hot, add the endives and shallot, seasoning with salt, black pepper, and the sugar (this will help the endive to brown). Scatter on the thyme, and sauté, turning the endives around a few times, until they’re lightly browned all over. Pour on the Marsala, turning the endives around in it and letting it bubble for a few minutes. Lift the endives from the pan with tongs, and line them up in a baking dish. Drizzle them with a thread of olive oil, and pour all the pan juices over the them. Cover with foil.
Bake until tender when poked with a thin knife, about 45 minutes. Uncover, and sprinkle on the Parmigiano. Put the dish back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so, just until the cheese is melted and lightly golden (give it a final short run under the broiler if it’s not brown enough). Finish with a few turns of black pepper and a scattering of fresh thyme. Serve hot.