As though you need an excuse to dig in to this gorgeous appetizer, Belgian endive are packed with nutrition and a perfect match for rich fall dinners like Thanksgiving. As a bitter green, these delicious little leaves help to stimulate the appetite and prepare the body for good digestion.

And then there’s the honeyed goat cheese.

There are a million reasons to fall in love with this little dish. One, it resembles the festive disorder of fallen leaves and we love to celebrate the seasons. Two, there’s nothing more fun to eat than endive spears, besides potato chips – and we rather eat the former. Three, these impressive little bites practically construct themselves, making them the perfect healthy party food to gather last minute.

As part of Jenni Kayne’s vegetarian Thanksgiving spread, chef Pamela Salzman created this stunning appetizer and we’re pretty sure our readers are going to flip for it. Serve this elegant and nutrition-packed snack to family and friends as they arrive, with a glass of wine. You’ll stave off those appetites without weighing them down and get everyone in a festive mood. So much to be grateful for!

Endive Leaves With Hazelnuts, Figs and Honey Goat Cheese
makes about 24 pieces


3 firm, fresh heads of Belgian endive
1/3 lb of honey goat cheese
6 fresh figs, quartered, or cut into smaller pieces depending on size
½ cup chopped hazelnuts or sliced almonds, toasted and salted, if desired

For the dressing: (optional)
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tsp)
3/4 – 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp raw honey or 100% pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp unpasteurized apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
3/4 cup unrefined, cold pressed, extra-virgin olive oil


1. Cut ½ inch off the bottom (root end) of each head of endive. Separate the leaves and keep under a damp paper towel in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to 4 hours.

2. Make the dressing if using. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or a glass jar with a lid. This will make too much dressing for the hors d’oeuvre. Save what you don’t use for a salad.

3. Fill the white part of each endive leaf with a bite size crumble of goat cheese, a piece of fig and a pinch of chopped nuts. Drizzle with a touch of dressing if desired.

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