We’re half way through the 12 days of Christmas, can you believe it?? It honestly still doesn’t feel like Christmas is less than a week away when we haven’t had any snow yet! Though I’m sure it will start to feel more “real” this week as I bake Christmas cookies like a mad woman and listen to All I Want for Christmas on repeat.
Today’s recipe is another SUPER EASY appetizer idea, perfect for holiday entertaining. Again, just like the Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers, I love this recipe because it looks very festive, involves no actual “cooking” and can be made in advance and left in the fridge. Also, they are fresh and crunchy unlike a lot of other heavy, greasy appetizers.
This recipe uses Belgian endive, which is a crunchy, lettuce-like vegetable, which makes the perfect single-serve vehicle for an assortment of toppings. This recipe kind of reminds me of a very sophisticated and grown up version of ants on a log (you know, the snack we ate as kids: celery with peanut butter and raisins).
I had both goat cheese and blue cheese on hand so I tried the recipe with both, and I have to say I much preferred the goat cheese ones – I thought they were much more mild and would probably be more of a crowd pleaser. However, the blue cheese were also good (I would suggest using not too stinky of a blue cheese, the milder the better) and the combination of blue cheese and craisins and nuts is pretty classic.
As with the mozzarella skewer “recipe”, this is more of a rough guideline, since the amount of toppings needed will depend on the amount of endive you have and the ratio of topping you like. So use this as a starting point and run with it.
Endive with Goat Cheese, Craisins and Walnuts
Time: 15 minutes, Yields: ~20 pieces, depending on the size of your endive
- 2 heads Belgian endive
- 4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, left to soften slightly at room temperature
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (plain, not flavored) – if you prefer blue cheese, I would recommend using much less, only a few tablespoons
- 1/4 cup craisins, slightly chopped
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- cinnamon, salt
- honey, for drizzling
Remove the root end of the endive, separate the leaves, wash and dry. If your endive is feeling a little soft and not super crisp, cut off the root and let it sit in a bowl of water for a little bit (it will draw back up some of the water and get crisp again).
Mix the cream cheese and goat cheese in a small bowl with a spoon or spatula until well combined. Whether you use blue cheese or goat cheese, taste the mixture and adjust the amount depending on the strength of the cheese and tolerance of your crowd.
Meanwhile, place the walnuts in a dry skillet over low heat on the stove top to toast (this develops the oils and brings out the flavor). Give the walnuts a sprinkle of cinnamon and dash of salt once the oils begin to develop. Toast until you can just begin to smell them – being careful not to burn!! Pay close attention, they go fast.
To assemble, spread the bottom third or half the endive leaf with goat cheese mixture (about a tablespoon), sprinkle with spiced nuts and chopped craisins. If storing in the fridge for a while before serving, store on paper towels to avoid any excess sogginess from developing.
Just before serving, generously drizzle with honey – don’t skip this step – it makes a huge difference in flavor!