Cultivated chicory is found in these three categories:
- Radicchio – variegated red or red and green leaves
- Sugarloaf – looks like cos lettuce with packed leaves
- Belgian endive – small head of cream-colored, slightly bitter leaves
Belgian endive is grown completely underground or indoors in the absence of sunlight in order to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up. Exposure to light turns endive green and bitter so store it in a brown paper bag in the crisper. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and a good source of dietary fiber.
adapted from Plenty
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 endives, cut in half lengthways
7 oz. Gruyère, sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (you may need more)
Preheat oven to 375f. Place a heavy pan over medium heat. Add the oil, butter and sugar and a pinch of salt – allow to melt. Place endive halves, cut-side down, in the pan. Do not move them for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they turn deep golden. Remove from heat. Transfer to a small oven-proof dish, arranging them cut-side up, close together. Sprinkle with half the thyme. Place slices of cheese on top and sprinkle with the rest of the thyme.
Place in oven and bake 8 to 12 minutes or until cheese starts to bubble. Serve hot.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: I made this two days in a row it’s that good! Yotam first published this recipe in the Guardian in 2007 and he used Taleggio but later decided to change it to Gruyère for its piquant flavor. He also suggests trying raclette, which he said was “born to melt”. Enjoy!