Seasonal Flavors: Endive

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Photo: Denise Zito.

Ah, memory. So ethereal. So fungible. Recent brain research suggests that we actually conjure memories anew each time we recall them, rather than storing them like bits and bytes in a computer. Maybe that’s why my siblings and I can’t quite agree on the exact composition of this food from our youth, brought over on a summer’s evening, by our dear neighbor, as leftovers from her dinner.

Brother number One: yes, I remember it with onions and garlic in addition to the potato, bacon and endive. [Note to Brother number One and the reader—no one named Toolie Lyberger was cooking with garlic in 1965].

Brother number Two: I have no memory of this. I think Mom liked endive. I remember having endive salad in the summer. Endive must have been cheap.

Baby Sister: Ohmygosh yes!  I loved that stuff and remember we would all fight over it.  It had a creamy sauce, and vinegar. Maybe you should add some cream!

Okay, whatever. This is the only food I ever remember Toolie bringing over. She and her husband lived next door and were grandparently figures to us and pinochle partners with our parents. Why she brought this, but never other food, across the driveway, I cannot fathom. But I remember the jostling for position as we would all beg for some of this delicious food. A little research tells me it was some sort of German potato salad, which makes perfect sense since Toolie and Al were of German descent. But nowhere on the web can I find precisely the version that we enjoyed.

I made it the other night, and it was a practically perfect rendition of what I recall with such fond memory. I hope you enjoy it. I couldn’t find endive, and here in Virginia, the dandelion greens are already old and tough, so I substituted arugula. Whatever spicy green you prefer will work well.

Toolie Lyberger’s Leftover Potato/Bacon/Endive Supper

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • ½ lb bacon
  • Large bunch of endive, dandelion greens or arugula
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1/3 cup cream (optional)

Boil the potatoes whole, in the jackets (peels on), until just tender.  Drain, cool and peel.

Fry the bacon, remove from the pan when crispy, and reserve.

Lower the heat under the frying pan and sprinkle the flour over the bacon grease, whisking it in to blend.  Add the sugar and vinegar and whisk until slightly thickened.  Add the cream and keep stirring.

Add the greens and stir till just wilted.  Then add the potatoes, stirring until they are coated with the sauce.  Add the bacon. Serves 4. 

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