Upscale Platter: An appetizer course or light lunch

Adapted from Vegetable Heaven
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 generous or 4 appetizer-sized servings (easily doubled)

Very urbane and, how shall I say it? Fin de siècle. But just think: You can turn your own home into a trendy bistro with one quick trip to your state-of the-art grocery store and only about 15 minutes of light work. This easy little appetizer/salad/lunch entrée is something you're going to want to make over and over.

  • As you remove the leaves from the head of Belgian endive, the core becomes exposed. Only the leaves actually go into this dish, but the core makes a great snack while you're working away.
  • Some varieties of balsamic vinegar are more acidic than others. The sugar in the recipe is optional, just in case the vinegar you are using tastes too sharp.
  • Serve Upscale Platter with some good crusty bread as a first course or a light lunch.
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped radicchio (about 4 1/2 ounces)
1 cup (packed) chopped arugula and/or watercress
A pinch of salt
12 leaves Belgian endive (about 2 4-ounce heads)
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
A pinch of sugar (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted (optional)
  1. Heat a little olive oil in a sauté pan. Turn up the heat and add the radicchio. Stir-fry in the hot pan for just a minute or two, then add the arugula or watercress. Stir-fry over strong heat for just another minute, then transfer the mixture to a small platter. Sprinkle lightly with salt, and keep the platter nearby.
  2. Using a teaspoon or your fingers, place a few nuggets of goat cheese inside each leaf of Belgian endive, heat a little more oil in the same pan, and carefully add the filled endive leaves, facing up. "Grill" over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the endive leaves have wilted slightly, and the goat cheese is exquisitely softened.
  3. Carefully remove the leaves from the pan, one-by-one, and arrange in a clean, understated design on top of the raddichio and arugula/rwatercress.
  4. Heat the pan again, and add the vinegar. Swirl to deglaze the pan, then cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes. (Try not to breathe the fumes„they are potent!) Remove from heat and taste the vinegar. If it's exceedingly tart, sprinkle in a little sugar to soften its edge.
  5. Drizzle the vinegar over the top of everything, and grind on some black pepper. Sprinkle with a few chopped, toasted walnuts, if desired. and serve warm.
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