Endive 2 ways

First a little clarification about endive (also called Belgian or French endive), since it is called very different in different parts of the world and the other meaning of endive. In the Netherlands endive is actually called witlof, while we use the word endive (andijvie) for what they in some part of the world call escarole, but escarole is sometimes called endive too in some other parts of the world. What I am talking about are the small heads of cream-colored, slightly bitter leaves. It is grown completely underground or indoors in the absence of sunlight in order to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up; after harvesting it has to be kept dark as well to prevent it from turning green and very unpalatable bitter. The harder inner part of the stem at the bottom of the head should be cut out before cooking, because these are very hard and unpalatable bitter.

Although I am not a big fan of bitter things normally, I’ve always loved endive, both raw and cooked. There are two (quite fast) dishes I generally prepare with endive: a salad and an oven bake.

Endive salad (2 servings)

3-4 heads endive
100 gram cooked ham
50 gram cheese (optional)
2 tbsp yoghurt
1 tbsp mayonnaise
splash of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the dressing by mixing the yoghurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a salad bowl.
Prepare the endive by taking off the ugly outer leaves, the top (if the leaves are very green there) and the bottom. Slice each head in halve, take out the bitter and hard inner part, and slice very finely. Mix the sliced endive directly with the dressing, as it turns brown very quickly.
Slice the ham and cheese (if using) in small cubes. Mix trough the salad and serve immediately.
Lots of people like to put fruit through their endive salad, because the sweetness counteracts the bitterness. Most often mandarin, pineapple or sour apple are used.

Endive oven bake (2 servings)

3-4 heads endive
100 gram cooked ham, sliced
50 gram cheese, sliced
splash of lemon juice
salt and pepper
olive oil

Prepare the endive by taking off the ugly outer leaves, the top (if the leaves are very green there) and the bottom. Slice each head in halve and take out the bitter and hard inner part.
Heat a large oven proof frying pan with a little olive oil. Place the endive halves with the slice side down in the pan and fry on medium heat until caramelized. Turn them over and fry again until caramelized. Sprinkle with a little water (this will help to cook the endive) and a splash of lemon juice (the acid makes the bitter taste less bitter) and cook until evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the slices of ham on top of the endive, then arrange the slices of cheese on top of the ham. Melt the cheese under a preheated grill and serve immediately.
When you make this in advanced, wait with grilling until serving the dish.
Alternatively you can wrap the fried endive halves in ham and cheese, place them on the bottom of an ovenproof dish and top with mashed potatoes. Place this in the oven for a crispy top. I almost never make this variant, because it is very delicious but takes a lot of time.

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