Belgian Endive "Boats" with Marinated Chestnuts and Parma Ham

makes 24


80 g chestnuts (cooked and peeled*)
50 ml olive oil
8 sage leaves
zest and juice of 1 organic, unwaxed lemon
salt & pepper to taste
6 big slices of parma ham
24 Belgian Endive leaves**


Warm the olive oil in a pan on the stove, taking care not to over-heat. You want no more than a gentle simmer, if that much. The point of the exercise is to release the essential oils in the sage and lemon to gently infuse the oil.

Bruise the sage leaves with a rolling pin or by breaking them up in your hands, place in the oil together with the finely chopped lemon zest.
Leave to infuse for at least 20 minutes. Add the chestnuts and stir through, then take off the heat.

Ideally, you want this to rest overnight, but don’t worry if you haven’t got the time.

Drain the chestnuts, retaining the oil. Chop the chestnuts with the sage and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, some of the remaining oil and some lemon juice. Set aside until ready to serve.

To assemble, place a quarter of a parma ham slice in the Belgian Endive tip, draping it decoratively, if you can. Top with a teaspoon full of the marinated chestnuts and arrange on a plate. Serve immediately.

*These are fine used out of a glass or vacuum pack, but you can also roast them fresh.
** These will serve as your “spoon”. They should be about 5-6 cm long and form an even scoop at the front (tip) to accommodate the ham and chestnuts

Cook pancetta in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic and 1 tablespoon sage and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in chestnuts and remove from heat.
Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander and add to pancetta mixture in skillet. Add 1 cup reserved cooking water along with cheese and butter and cook, tossing constantly, over high heat until pasta is well coated (add more reserved water if necessary), about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve sprinkled with parsley and remaining tablespoon sage.

You may be interested to read Cooking with Chestnuts