Traditional Flemish witloof -Belgian endive- casserole

Witloof is a very common vegetable in Belgium and the Netherlands. Outside these two countries it’s less common, but not completely unknown. Witloof is a relative to radicchio but is grown in the dark. This is probably the reason why it’s a difficult vegetable to completely forget. Roots are given a season to grow outside and store nutrients, then they are dug up and prepared in soil where they can be kept watered and completely protected from light. In this condition they will crop. A vegetable that doesn’t have to rely on sunshine to give a good yield, imagine that!
Last year Baker Creek heirloom seeds had some witloof seeds for sale, but they seem to have stopped selling them. If you want to start growing witloof, the search terms witloof, Belgian endives, chicory leaves might help to find you a supplier.

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I like making this casserole because it doesn’t leave you with a kitchen full of dishes to wash. You can prepare it within 15 minutes and leave it in the oven for an hour until it’s ready. Start by pre-heating the oven to 160°C.

 

I slice the witloof/endives in halves or quarters, depending on the size of the heads, then cut out the core. This piece would take longer to cook and it tastes quite bitter.

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I’ll wrap the pieces in slices of ham. Use less ham and more vegetable depending on your preferences.

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Cover a casserole dish in wrapped witloof and cover them with shredded cheese. I used emmental cheese today, but you could use any mild-flavored variety you have on hand. I avoid getting lots of cheese on the edges of casserole dishes. Sure, it looks nicer, but I really don’t like washing dishes.

Now is the best time to apply seasoning. I use rosemary, sage, black pepper and sea salt.

Mix two eggs, milk and cream in a bowl and pour it out over the cheese. Put it in the oven and cook for one hour.


Ingredients

  • 8 heads of witloof
  • 8 slices of ham
  • 300g shredded cheese, mild flavored
  • 100ml milk
  • 100ml cream
  • 2 eggs
  • Rosemary, sage, pepper and sea salt
  • Butter for the casserole dish

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