Please everyone with Belgian endive hand salad

I’ve heard it said all my life — “You can’t please everyone!” Some days it seems you can’t please anyone — but that’s a different discussion. It’s the way of the world. What’s good for the robin is definitely not so good for the worm!

Weather strongly impacts everyone and everything and definitely doesn’t please everyone all the time. This summer in central Ohio has been a soggy one. Thankfully, it’s not blistering hot so far. Grass is lush and bright green, flowering plants and bushes are outdoing themselves, and vegetables (those that haven’t been washed away) are thriving. It’s we humans who are wilting.

People who watch and track storms are in their element; however, those upon whom the monsoon rains have been falling mutter as darkly as the color of what’s overhead. This summer, we can get a fair amount of exercise just opening and closing windows. And so it goes.

Those of us with naturally curly hair don’t even try for a smooth, easy do this year. Most of us opt to surrender to the high humidity and live with the curls and frizz. It may not please us, but we live with it.

People are different. Some of us are well entertained at home by our televisions and radios, or whatever devices we own that play our music. We plug in and tune out. Others want to go out and find a venue that allows for live entertainment or an interactive discussion.

The possibilities, it is said, are endless, and no two people seem to be in complete agreement.

That said, everybody likes good food. Ah, but what constitutes “good?” My vegetarian friends and family are turned off by chicken salad, grilled hamburgers, and the like. “Some like it hot,” and add hot peppers and/or spices to almost everything, which is not appealing to palates sensitive to peppery foods.

You can’t please everyone, but at least at the dinner table there are ways around a main dish that might not be everyone’s first choice. Go with some side dishes that will fill in and complement the entrée. Make one or two of them something fun and different — a little unexpected.

I’ve rediscovered Belgian endive, and have served it several times lately. It’s a great finger food in the lettuce family, compact and shaped somewhat like a cucumber, served cold and crisp.

Belgian endive is something that does seem to please most of the folks I’ve fed lately. I’ve had it split as part of a composed salad, cooked lightly on the grill, and with individual small containers of dips.

Here’s the way I’m going to serve it next time and I’ll bet it’ll please nearly everyone! This salad should be eaten first. There’s a lot going on, as you’ll see. It’s especially fun before a casual meal straight from the grill.



6 whole heads Belgian endive

Salad dressing of your choice

An assortment of toppings you like

Rinse and dry the endive. Cut just the ends off the bottoms (you want the leaves to hold together). Chill until ready to serve.

Make or buy your favorite salad dressing. (Mine’s homemade Caesar.) When ready to serve, pour about half a cup of dressing into 6 small containers. Make these a part of each individual place setting.

The idea is to choose 5 or 6 “toppings” to go along with the Belgian endive, such as crumbled bacon, Parmesan cheese, finely chopped egg, crushed peanuts, pine nuts, chopped olives and roasted chopped pecans.

First, pass the endive so that everyone has one head. Then pass each of the toppings in its own bowl, so your guests can spoon the ones he or she wants onto a plate.

Dip the end of the endive into the dressing, then roll on your plate to pick up as much of each topping as you want. Double-dipping is encouraged. Your dressing’s your own, and you need it to hold the good stuff that clings to each bite!

Serves six.

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at