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Baked Red Endive with Tomatoes and Pancetta (Endivia Rossa al Forno)

Red endive looks like a happy union between Belgian endive and radicchio, and is reminiscent of all the varieties of radicchio grown in Italy’s Veneto region. When baked, endive loses its bitter edge and turns mellow. Use white endive if you can’t find red.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 4 heads red Belgian endive, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 oz. pancetta, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking dish.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil Arrange the endive halves, cut side down, in the pan and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the endive halves, cut side up, to the prepared baking dish.

Add the carrot, celery, pancetta and garlic to the fry pan and sauté over medium heat until the vegetables have begun to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, season with pepper, and sauté until the vegetables are soft and the pancetta is starting to crisp, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and pour in the wine. Cook until most of the wine has evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.

Spoon the sauce over the endive halves, cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and sprinkle with the cheese. Continue to bake, uncovered, until the top is golden brown, about 20 minutes more. Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti (Weldon Owen, 2011).