Who knew about Belgian endive? We certainly never had. A little about endive that we discovered:
It's a leafy vegetable that looks like a thin cylinder of tight, pale green leaves. It can be eaten baked, steamed, boiled, grilled, or raw. One medium Belgian endive has only about twenty calories; contains no fat, sodium, or cholesterol; and is a good source of folate. Before cooking the endive, the bottom core will need to be removed to prevent a bitter flavor from spoiling the finished dish. The Belgian endive should be rinsed in cold water and dried well to remove any surface debris prior to preparation. Remove any wilted outer leaves. (from www.wisegeek.com)
This dish uses gruyere cheese, another first for us. Man is that stuff expensive! The cheapest we found was about $17 a pound. And the smallest size we found was about 1/3 a pound. Gruyere is a very strong cheese, and has a flavor that would be hard to substitute. The lady at the grocery store told us that the closest substitution would be substitute Swiss Fontina, if you want to give that a try. . . The recipe below serves about 6.
- 8 heads Belgian endive, halved and cored
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
- 2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- cooking spray
- 2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
- 1/2 cup (2 oz.) Gruyere cheese, divided
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Sprinkle endive evenly with sugar and 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper.
- Place endive halves, cut side down, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cover tops with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Take out endive, rotate to other side and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until endive is tender when pierced with a fork.
- Increase oven temperature to 400F.
- Heat 1 and 3/4 cups milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge (about 7-10 minutes, do not boil). Stir flour into remaining 1/4 cup milk, whisking until well blended.
- Add flour mixture, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper into hot milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 2 minutes, or until sauce thickens.
- Remove from heat. Add butter and nutmeg, stirring until blended.
- Arrange endive in a 13x9 inch dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with bacon and pour sauce over top. Top with the cheese and bake for 20 minutes until brown and bubbly.