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Witlof au gratin (serves 2)

4 heads Belgian endive/witlof, cored*
2 tbsp brown sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 bay leaf
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds (available at Woolworths)
Sprinkling of nutmeg
Sprinkling of paprika
Himalayan rock salt and rainbow pepper
1 pack button mushrooms (400g), sliced
1 punnet (250g) rosa tomatoes, halved
50g flour
50g butter
500 ml milk
150 g gruyere
150 g cheddar
8 slices black forest ham

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius

Place cored* (*To core the endive, slice about 5mm of the end off and cut out the small core with a sharp paring knife) endive in a ovenproof serving dish and sprinkle with sugar, lemon juice, nutmeg, salt and pepper, bay leaf and a little water to cover the bottom third of the endives. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, turn and bake for further 30 minutes. Drain well.

In a saucepan, sauté the mushrooms and tomatoes in a little olive oil or butter.
Set aside.

Melt the butter in the same saucepan. Remove from heat and add the flour. Stir well. Gradually add the milk (only a little at first to prevent clumps) stirring continuously to combine. Return to the heat, add the mustard seeds and bring to the boil, stirring constantly (otherwise you WILL get clumps). Once the sauce starts to thicken, add half the cheese, flavor with salt and pepper and a sprinkling of paprika and stir through.

Wrap each head in ham, place back in dish (with water removed) and cover with tomatoes and mushrooms. Pour over the cheese sauce and place back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Sprinkle over the rest of the cheese and place under a hot grill till brown and bubbling. Enjoy!

Tip: Place the endives in individual serving bowls once wrapped in ham to make individual gratin portions. This will preserve the prettiness of the dish. Endives are also great used in salads or use the leaves as scoops or bowls for dips and fillings.

More about Endives: (from endive.com)

WHAT IS ENDIVE?

Endive is a member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole and curly endive. It is often called the queen of vegetables and is prized the world over.

It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness — great served raw or cooked.

So Special…It’s Grown Twice
Endive is one of the most difficult vegetables in the world to grow, requiring a two-step process before it is ready to be enjoyed.

The first growth takes about 150 days in the field, where the chicory plant grows from seed into a deep root. Tops of the leafy plant are then cut off, roots dug up, and placed in cold storage, where they enter a dormancy period.

As demand necessitates, roots are removed from cold storage for their second growth, which takes 20 to 28 days in dark, cool, and humid forcing rooms, similar to mushroom growing. Thus, endives are available year-round.

More Than a Dozen Healthy Reasons To Enjoy Endive

  • low in fat
  • low in sodium
  • cholesterol free
  • very low in calories
  • loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals — vitamins B and C, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, folate and selenium
  • a good source of beta-carotene, which the body coverts into vitamin A
  • a good source of heart-healthy potassium — one head of endive delivers over 50% of the potassium found in a banana
  • high in complex fibers
  • aids digestion
  • promotes regularity
  • helps prevent the absorption of cholesterol into the blood stream
  • slows food metabolism
  • helps with the removal of toxins from the digestive tract

Did you know?

ENDIVE is a member of the chicory family, which includes radicchio, escarole and curly endive.
ENDIVE is the one-calorie per leaf salad ingredient, with only 17 calories per elegant little head.

Perhaps the most versatile member of the lettuce family — ENDIVE is great in salads, used as scoop for dips, sautéed, braised, baked or grilled.

ENDIVE keeps longer than most other lettuces — 10 to 14 days in the refrigerator.
ENDIVE is always in season — perfect for enjoying any time of year.
There’s no need to wash ENDIVE. Just trim the bottom and you’re ready to go!

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