When searching for nutritional things to say about Belgian endive, I was stunned to see that this vegetable has its own website, which I thought was kind of vain for a bitter-tasting leaf that many people aren’t crazy about. Talk about self-promotion. But it got worse as I read on. It was like the Madonna of vegetables, declaring that genuine Belgian endive ‘isn’t any one thing. It’s everything.’
Now, I may not go as far as that, but I do like slicing up a few leaves into salads for a wintry zing that feels more in keeping with frosty weather. My favourite method of preparation, however, is to fry it in a little butter and olive oil and then braise it, once coloured. In other words, it’s good to cook the heck out of it. Hence, this tasty recipe – so tasty that even the child ate a few bites and declared it: ‘Okay’.
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Slice the endive in half (lengthways). Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the endive flat side down for a few minutes until starting to brown. Season well and then transfer to a gratin dish. You may need to fry them in two or three batches depending on the size of your frying pan and you may need more butter. Once you’ve browned off all the endive and have them neatly lined up in the gratin dish, in one single layer rather than piled on top of each other, top them with the ham.
3. Heat up the cream and stock in the frying pan, add the garlic and thyme leaves. When hot and tasty, pour on top of the endive, top with the cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. You may want to baste the endive halfway through cooking.
4. Serve with some bread and salad for a tasty supper dish.