Leeks and endive are two veggies that we love at our house. Growing up, they were regularly served in one way or another and even as a child, I loved it all. Both leeks and endive are vegetables are incredibly versatile. If I could have had one Euro for every time that a cashier in the U.S. asked me these two strange vegetables they were ringing up for me and how to cook them, I would sit behind this keyboard with heavy pockets. How could I possible answer that question anyway. The meals you can make with them certainly do not begin or end with leek soup or endive au gratin. THIS recipe surprised even me. It is incredibly delicious. Silky... lemony... With the Holiday Season coming, this salmon roll with endive and leeks baked in a delicate sauce can be the star on your festive table.
A little background
*Endive was originally a leafy lettuce variety native to Europe. Growing endive to be white was discovered in the 1850's at the Brussels botanical gardens. Endive - or witloof (literally white leaf) are grown in a dark environment. In WWI and WWII the import of coffee greatly suffered and was rare to come by. As a substitute the root of endives would be ground and used as a replacement for coffee. Interestingly, endive is a Belgian vegetable with Belgium exporting the vegetable to over 40 countries, but France is the largest producer!
*Leeks, while super popular in Northern Europe, are not native to it. As evidenced by pictures on the walls of Egyptian tombs, it's likely this vegetable was cultivated as early as ancient Egypt. Just like 'garlic', the name 'leek' comes from the old English word leac. Leeks are from the onion variety, but much sweeter. Perhaps that's the very reason why they were used as a means of trading in ancient Egypt? I don't know! Let's just head to the kitchen, shall we?
Ingredients and preparation - Baked Salmon Roll with Endive and Leeks
For 2 - 3 people
- Salmon - a thick piece the size of your hand - around 400 grams. No skin!
- 1 large leek stalk or 2 smaller ones, light green and white part only, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1cm (half inch) pieces (do keep the dark green for soup)
- 2 to 3 endives, bitter stalk removed (hard white stalk), cut in half and into 1.5 cm (about an inch) pieces - I used 3 because they were medium sized
- 2 TBSP of fresh lemon juice (juice 1 lemon and set aside in case you need more)
- 2 generous TBSP butter
- 1 cup of good quality dry white wine (e.g. Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream (this is optional)
- 2 - 3 TBSP of grated cheese
- not too strong a cheese. Gruyere is always my go-to for cooking - a lemony silky taste is the goal here and a cheese that is too strong would deter from it. In this case the cheese is only used for a little colour and depth.
- Salt and pepper
- Fish spices (lemon) - but if you don't have it you could also use lemon zest!
- Conversion chart cups to grams/ ml
- Prepare the veggies as described above.
- Stew the leeks and endive separately. Why?
- because they have a different stewing time
- in my recipe, I rolled them into the salmon in separate rows
- BUT if you wish to add them together after they are stewed to tender, that's up to you
- Melt some butter, add veggies, salt and pepper
- Stew the veggies on low to medium heat until tender. Stir frequently to make sure they are not sticking. If they are, just add a little bit of water, no more than just the bottom covered
- The veggies will have made juices. Set the veggies aside in colanders to leak and to cool as you prepare the salmon (you can freeze the juices to add to soups later)
- NOTE: this step is necessary. You cannot roll the veggies raw into the salmon. In the short time it takes to bake the salmon through, the veggies could never be tender.
The tricky part of this recipe is to slice the salmon oven to form a large rectangle. Use a sharp knife.
- Lay your hand over the salmon so that it covers the whole piece (lengthwise)
- make the first cut about 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) below your hand - almost all the way through but not quite
- lay it op so you can tell how to cut next
- turn the plate 180 degrees and cut about 1/5 cm from the bottom this time, so above the plate.
- You should now be able to lay the salmon open to form a large rectangle
- Season with salt, pepper and fish spices (lemon flavored) - my fish spices are quite yellow
- Preheat oven to 190c or 375F
- Make sure everything for the sauce is ready to go: butter, flour, lemon juice, white wine, cream, salt and pepper - and a sauce pan or skillet
- Assemble the fish and veggies
- spoon a row of leeks all along the longest edge of the salmon rectangle
- leave room to roll the edge of the fish over tightly with room for the endive and then rolling it over again - see images
- take the edge of the salmon and fold it gently but tightly over the leeks
- spoon a row of endive against the inside of the roll
- roll or fold the fish over again until completely rolled fairly tightly - hopefully it will hold together for you.
- Carefully cut the roll in half or thirds
- Set the rolls into an oven dish
- Give the top of the fish a shake of fish spices and pepper (and salt if you wish)
- Arrange the leftover vegetables on and around the fish
- Set aside to make the sauce
White wine lemon butter sauce
- Melt butter butter
- When just melted but hot, add the white wine and 2 TBSP of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Let the sauce simmer to reduce to half.
- Add heavy cream if you wish to even the tartness out a little.
- personally I prefer it that way
- in the images, you'll see that I added the cream as the sauce is more white/creamy
- Simmer the sauce for no more than 5 minutes. It doesn't have to be thick. Not too thick and not too runny.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust.
- Set aside to cool a little (don't pour the piping hot sauce over the raw salmon)
- Once it's cooled off a bit, pour the sauce over the salmon and vegetables and into the dish
- Top the each salmon roll with 1 TBSP or so of grated cheese
- Bake at 190c (375F) for 15 minutes until fish is flaky
- or 12 minutes with 3 min broil to golden
- With roasted potatoes or mashed potatoes, boiled or steamed potatoes
- Dry white wine that you cooked with (use good quality for cooking!)
NOTE!!!! Make ahead of time
You can easily prepare this dish to pop into the oven as you're entertaining guests. When you do, make sure everything is cooled completely before assembling the dish. Make sure the veggies and the sauce are completely cold before incorporating with the fish. Then cover will and store in the fridge until you set the oven to preheat. Also note that if you really don't want to make the sauce, you can probably purchase pre-made lemon sauce from the seafood section at the grocery store (the refrigerated kind) - but making the sauce yourself will be epically better!
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