Here’s a little snack, easy and quick to make, that features both finely grated carrots and beets. Their colors combine as a vibrant contribution to start any winter meal. Your vessels could be individual lettuce leaves from the heart of a butterhead, or single leaves of romaine. My favorite, though, are the tiny canoes you can make from the little pointed heads of Belgian endive — also known as witloof chicory — rendered white, tender and crisp by blanching. My friend Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardeners International offers a step-by-step explanation of how to blanch endive at Growing Belgian Endive.
If you don’t have homegrown endive on hand, you can find heads in most supermarkets. A smear of mayonnaise in the bottom will hold the boats’ cargo in place and act as a dressing. Moor your boats on a plate to pass at a party as hors d’oeuvre, or dock a few alongside a ham and cheese sandwich as a healthy addition to lunch.
• 1 medium carrot
• 1 medium beet
• 4 heads Belgian endive
• 3 tbsp mayonnaise
1. Scrub the carrot, then grate it finely, using either a box grater or a Microplane. Set aside in a small bowl. Wash your utensils and then peel and grate the beet. (These steps can be done ahead of time; if so, cover the beets and carrots and store in the refrigerator.)
2. Slice off the bottom quarter-inch of each Belgian endive head to free one or two leaves. Gently remove them and set them aside. Slice off the next quarter-inch to free the next leaves, then repeat to free some more.
3. When you’re done, spread out all the leaves and choose a dozen or more of the nicest ones of a uniform size. (Save the rest, along with the unsliced hearts of the heads, to add crispness to tossed salads.)
4. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise inside each leaf, then load half the boats with carrots and half with beets.
5. Arrange on a plate or platter and serve chilled or at room temperature.
Want to learn more about cooking with winter vegetables? Read Winter’s Jewels: How to Grow and Cook Beets and Carrots for tips from Barbara Damrosch on growing and preparing more dishes.
Esteemed garden writer Barbara Damrosch farms and writes with her husband, Eliot Coleman, at Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine. She is the author of The Garden Primer and, with Coleman, of The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.