Endive appetizer with blue cheese and blackberries, drizzled with a blackberry sauce.
Summer demands easy entertaining and food that refreshes. I'm generally carrying a fan around the house to stay cool on days the San Francisco fog stays out at sea (I have a svelte little tower model by Wexford that I love), and have loads of things I'd rather do than slave in a hot kitchen for hours on end during the hottest part of the day.
So on days that sizzle, when friends stop by for a casual dinner off the grill, this little appetizer that takes all of 20 minutes to make totally rocks. And if you make the Blackberry Sauce ahead of time, like I do, this becomes a 10 minute appetizer guaranteed to please. Just drizzle a little over a blackberry studded endive scoop of blue cheese mixed with Greek yogurt, bring out a bottle (or two) of Rios de Chile wine, and you may not need to serve dinner at all.
All of this is in honor of National Berry Month. Truthfully, every month is berry month for me since I have berries of some kind almost every day of the year, but when they peak with their fat, juicy, sweetness in July, they definitely deserve their own month. So when I was asked to participate with six other bloggers to create a starter using Driscoll's berries and endive (that's ‘ON-deeve, by the way) from California Endive that could be paired with Rios de Chile wine, I jumped at the opportunity.
A little about Driscoll's:
Family owned for over 100 years, Driscoll’s is passionate about growing premium fresh berries. Every berry begins life in Driscoll's nurseries, carefully sited based on their geographic isolation in an effort to keep the soil free of pests and diseases. Seedlings move from germ-free screen houses to nursery fields, a process that can take several years. After the seedlings are harvested, they are carefully packed and shipped to Driscoll's coolers where they're kept chilled in hibernation until ready for planting by Driscoll's network of independent farmers. The berries are grown by farmers in California and Mexico – and I'm fortunate enough to have three of their farms within a 90 minute drive of our home.
A little about California Endive:
A couple of years ago I took a fascinating tour of California Endive's farm. Only it doesn't really look like a farm you might be used to seeing. Endive is actually the result of a two-stage growing process. Chicory seeds are sown in the spring producing a root the size of a large carrot by fall. The leafy tops are mowed down and used as fodder for animals. The roots are harvested and placed in cold, dark, humid, “forcing” rooms to produce endives. It's an amazing site to draw aside heavy plastic sheets to peer inside a cavernous growing room stacked 20 feet high with endive ‘fields', all carefully irrigated and kept completely in the dark. Endive can be served cooked or raw but has slightly more health benefits raw. It promotes digestive health, boasts 1 calorie per leaf, is a good source of potassium, and just one cup of raw endive per week has been shown to lower ovarian cancer rates by 75% !
A little about Rios de Chile:
This is a new wine for me, and what a find it was! Rios de Chile's wine is a Chilean winery with both red and wine wines to their credit. Their reds in particular have won high rankings by the wine media. They sent me a couple of bottle of their Carmenere, a red wine I found full-flavored, very fruity, and a little peppery. It was perfect paired with the mustiness of blue cheese and sweet fruit of the berries!
Blackberries, Blue Cheese and Endive Appetizer: #Berry Month
- 2 heads endive
- 1 pint blackberries
- 1/4 cup blue cheese
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp minced chives
- Slice off the ends of the endive, and separate into individual leaves. No need to wash endive because of the way it's grown.
- Rinse the blackberries and dry them well.
- Mash together the blue cheese and yogurt until fairly smooth. Either spoon 1 teaspoon into the larger end of each endive leave and top with a blackberry, or snip off the corner of a zip-lock baggie, fit it with a piping nozzle. Fill the bag with the blue cheese-yogurt mixture and pipe it onto each endive leaf.
- Drizzle Blackberry Sauce (recipe below) on top with a sprinkle of minced chives.
- Place the blackberries in a medium bowl with the sugar and red wine vinegar and mash the berries. I use a potato masher to do this.
- Stir in the shallot, salt, and pepper until the salt dissolves. Stir in the olive oil until emulsified.