Chicory wrapped in ham and covered in cheesesauce, is a classic Belgian recipe. It’s not necessarily a healthy recipe, but as a comfort food it’s perfect.
Belgian endive has a lot of different names. Depending on where you are in the world, this vegetable can be: Belgian endive, endive, chicory, witlof or witloof (and probably a few more I forgot). Why exactly there are so many names for one plant, probably has to do with the fact that it’s a part of the Cichorum family. There are a lot of edible plants in this family. But because I already wrote about them in my recipe for green quiche, I won’t list them here again.
But why exactly is it Belgian endive? That question is easy to answer. For centuries, farmers around the Belgian capitol of Brussels, were growing chicory for its roots. After baking and roasting, they grounded the roots into a powder. This powder then served as a coffee substitute, in times when real coffee was scarce and expensive.
As is common with root vegetables, chicory roots were often stored in a cold, dark place like a cellar. Someone discovered that some of the chicory roots he’d stored, had started growing white leaves. These leaves turned out to be edible and, more importantly, quite tasty. From that moment on, about 150 years ago, farmers started growing chicory especially for the leaves. Creating the Belgian endive we know today.
This recipe for chicory with ham and cheese, is a Belgian classic. The exact type of ham and cheese used varies. The ham is always a cooked one, but the most important thing you should look out for is the size of the slices. After all, you need to be able to wrap the chicory heads in them. For the cheese sauce, choose a good melting cheese like Emmental, Gouda or Gruyère.
If you like this recipe, please share it with family and friends or on any of our social media pages. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. If you want to be kept up-to-date on new recipes and posts, you can also follow us on bloglovin‘ or sign up to our newsletter.