This endive & ham bake makes for an easy, French inspired supper. Christina is about to encourage your endive love, and we know you'll thank her for it!
I’m going old school French on y’all today. Have you ever heard of endive? Endive is a slightly bitter lettuce that grows entirely in the dark during the winter. Well, technically, first the plant is grown in the light to develop its roots, and then the roots are transplanted into sand and allowed to grow in the dark.
The lack of light creates the perfectly white leaves. At the end of the growing process, a brief exposure to light develops chlorophyll (color) at the tips of the leaves. This amazing lettuce belongs in your grocery cart.
Enough history; let’s talk about endive’s deliciousness. I fell in love with endive a few years ago. It was a particularly cold winter’s day at the farmer’s market, but one stall had a long line of people greedily buying something I couldn’t quite see. When I got up to the front, I discovered everyone was buying heaps of endive cones. I quickly did the same.
Practically dying from lack of fresh salad in the winter, I immediately sliced up the endive and tossed it with fig-balsamic vinegar, olive oil and toasted walnuts. It was, and still is, the best winter salad I’ve ever had. A few shavings of Parmesan and blood orange segments make it into the salad bowl with the endive often, but mainly, I eat endive as plain as I can get it. The slight bitter flavor is offset by the juicy, always crispy leaves. It’s lettuce perfection, in my eyes.
The key to enjoying endive is buying a super fresh specimen. When endive is fresh, you can still see the tiny hairs along its ribs. Actually, this is true for all almost all lettuce. I look for hairy lettuce to ensure freshness. Sounds weird, but it’s true!
See the tiny hairs along the ribs? Look for these when buying lettuce. Then, next time you open a bag of salad mix, notice that none of the leaves has hairs. Then, next time consider buying a whole head of lettuce to ensure freshness ;)
In order to ease you into loving endive, we’re going to wrap it in ham and cover it in a cream sauce. It’s the French version of wrapping everything in bacon to make it even more delightful. Give this casserole a chance; I really think you’ll love it.