Amine Laabi is busy behind the large island that sits in the bright studio where he receives La Presse the day after the snowstorm. It is here that some 75 Mediterranean-inspired recipes found in the book De tout coeur were cooked, written and photographed. A work that Amine Laabi carried out with the invaluable help of the epicurean host Alexandra Diaz, who co-authored the work, and her entire team.
As the holiday season approaches, the chef, followed by nearly 440,000 followers on TikTok and more than 720,000 people on Instagram, was asked to prepare an ideal recipe for the end-of-year celebrations. His choice fell on ranch endives.
Cutting the end of the vegetable, he explains why: “I like unloved products, which we don’t really cook. We cook endives too little. »
Braised or in salads, endive can be eaten both hot and fresh, argues the chef who believes that this vegetable “with a beautiful bitterness” deserves to be better known.
In the recipe he prepares, the endives are served cold with a ranch-style vinaigrette, homemade bread crumbs and anchovies (“that’s optional,” he says). A “fresh, very crunchy” dish, perfect for an aperitif, supports the verbose chef by checking the cooking of the bread croutons which will then be crumbled.
As he places the endive leaves in a large serving dish, he clarifies.
“If we all pick from the same plate, it’s a good time to share, I think,” adds the one who loves to entertain.
It was actually during a summer day when he was cooking for guests that he created this recipe. “It really came from feeling,” says the chef who likes to be inspired by the foods he has on hand.
“For me, if it comes from the heart, it’s good,” he adds during the interview. It is not for nothing that his book is called With all my heart.
His everyday cuisine being very influenced by the flavors of the Mediterranean, it is this theme that the chef born in Morocco has chosen to highlight in his work. “Here, we are very far from the Mediterranean, but we consume Mediterranean products without realizing it: tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, olive oil, olives, oregano. It’s already here! And they’re not complicated products,” he observes.
Like today’s endives, the majority of its recipes are simple and can very well support beginner amateur cooks. However, some dishes presented have a higher degree of difficulty.
“These are not big restaurant recipes, but they are family recipes with a lot of work behind them. Recipes for special occasions, I would say: there is braised lamb, paella, lobster gratin,” explains the chef.
A big fan of recipe books – he owns more than 200 – it was nevertheless important to Amine Laabi that his work be one of those that people enjoy consulting. “When people buy my book, I want them to make the recipes. I know it’s a beautiful book and they’re going to want to put it in a library, but you have to use it,” he says with a laugh.
His endive ranch starter finished, Amine Laabi opens De Whole Heart to the dish page. “It’s the same,” laughs the man who found it very important that all the photos in his work were free of “cheating.” “It shows when it’s not real food,” says the man who has surely developed an eagle eye on the subject by consulting his collection of recipe books, one presumes.
“The images have to be appetizing. That we want to eat when we see the photos,” he believes.
And does “real endive” pass the taste test? Absolutely, we confirm.
Looking for a little freshness for an aperitif? Here is Amine Laabi’s endive ranch recipe. “I find it very original,” says the former candidate of the show Les Chefs! about this very simple bite to make.
Prep: 30 minutesCook: 10 minutesYield: 4 to 6 servings