belgian endives with cabbage

Classic Belgian Winter Dish made with love

This year’s rainy winter is finally drawing to an end. The food I really enjoy during the coldest season of the year, are Belgian classic dishes like: “stoofvlees” (pork or beef stew with Belgian beer), “rode kool of spruitjes met worst en mosterd” (red cabbage or Brussels sprouts with pork sausage & mustard) and of course “witloofrolletjes uit de oven”. This hearty dish made of cooked or stewed endives rolled in roasted pork ham and served with a creamy béchamel sauce and mash potatoes, does real justice to this bitter Belgian vegetable. You probably noticed that all these dishes have meat in them. I grew up in Herentals, in the Antwerp province, eating meat practically everyday… now I don’t anymore. I would describe myself as a flexitarian because not only do I eat way less meat, I also eat -almost- everything and create as little waste as possible when I cook. My ‘cuisine’ is vegetable based, in season and personally I adore the often discarded organ meats like liver, kidney, brains,… or cuts that are less known.

So… that classic Belgian dish with endives… I changed it up a bit and rolled the cooked endive stalks in blanched savoy cabbage leaves instead of the roasted ham slices. On another occasion I rolled the endive stalks in soaked bean curd or tofu skin. It turned out pretty, pretty good as well. Maybe a combo of both could really work out. I haven’t tried that though.

Stew the endives in a little butter and oil and cover while leaving an opening so the water can evaporate. When your knife goes through them easily, remove from your stove and let them rest a bit so the rest of the water inside the vegetable drains out. Roll them into the blanched cabbage leaves and cover with the béchamel sauce. Put some grated cheese on top and create that awesome crusty top in the oven. If you like it more cheesy, melt some cheese in your béchamel sauce before draping it over the endive rolls. Grill in oven until hot in center. I always season my béchamel sauce with nutmeg, salt, pepper, lemon juice, paprika powder and chili flakes (or use my Xi’an Smoke spice paste/hot sauce which goes great with this kind of dish.

In the picture, I served the sauce on the side. Enjoy this Belgian dish with a green twist. X