If you’ve never had tapas before, you should make an effort to try it. It’s kind of like eating an entire meal of appetizers — which, as we all know, are the best part of the meal anyway. Our favorite tapas restaurant at the moment is Jaleo, in Crystal City, VA (there’s another location in Washington, DC but we like the Crystal City one better). It’s both expensive and kind of a trek, so we don’t go there often, but when we do get to go it’s always a fun experience. Usually we try to order new things that we haven’t tried before, but we do have a couple of standbys, and one of them is so delicious and so simple that I decided I needed to make it at home.
On the Jaleo menu, this is called endibias con queso de cabra, naranjas y almendras (endives with goat cheese, oranges and almonds), but here in our sophisticated household we just call it “endive thingies”. Endives, incidentally, have been ridiculously hard to find. Maybe I’m missing something, but most of the stores I go into don’t even HAVE belgian endive, and if they do it’s about an inch long and wilted. Sigh. But I lucked out on my last grocery trip and found some moderately decent endives, so I finally got to make this dish. It was so good that now I’m honestly pondering spending a ridiculous amount of money to ship in endives from California. I think I have a problem.
Try this, though, and you won’t blame me.
In making this dish last night, I got to do two things I’d never done before: supreme (or segment) an orange, and toast almonds. Taking apart the orange was almost ridiculously easy; I’d seen it done on TV and of course read Rachel’s excellent tutorial, but I didn’t really realize just how simple it was. Awesome.
As for toasting almonds, I had to admit I was nervous about it. On the Food Network, all anybody ever says is “you’ll know when it’s done because you’ll smell it.” Um, what? That’s not really helpful. So I resolved to keep a careful eye on my panful of almonds to make sure they didn’t burn, since I had no idea what I was supposed to smell and when I would smell it and what it would smell like. Then I promptly forgot about them while I enthusiastically segmented three oranges. But just as I was about to finish the oranges, an incredible nutty, almost meaty scent came floating over. I’d so completely forgotten about the almonds that I actually spent time trying to figure out who was cooking something so delicious smelling — I was positive I didn’t have any meat in the oven but it smelled so good! Yes, I can be kind of an idiot. But I did figure out what was going on, and whisked the almonds off the heat in the nick of time. Phew!
To assemble, slice the base off of your endive, then carefully peel off the larger leaves and arrange them on a plate. Place a segment of orange in each leaf, then crumble goat cheese over the orange. Sprinkle toasted almonds over the whole thing, then drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil over and serve. You can garnish with a little bit of chopped chive, as they do at Jaleo, but I barely got the olive oil on before I was cramming the things in my mouth.
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Tags: appetizer, easy, endive, fast, goat cheese, orange, spanish, tapas