Endives au gratin

Serves: 2

Endives au gratin
Endives au gratin Endives au gratin

Endives- or chicory to give them their English name- are a sadly underused vegetable in this country.  They are a great favourite in France where you will see them in so many dishes, both cooked and raw. I love them either way although their bitterness can put some people off. I’m not sure if the varieties have changed but I think the trademark bitter flavour has mellowed in recent years.



  • 60g butter
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  •  2 endives (chicory) heads, halved lengthways
  • 4 slices of good quality ham
  • 450ml milk
  • ½ onion, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 40g butter
  • 40g plain flour
  •  1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  •  90g Gruyère cheese, grated
Endives au gratin


  1. Heat the oven to 180˚c, fan oven 160˚c, mark 4. Melt 20g of the butter with the oil in an ovenproof frying pan (or flameproof dish) and lay the endives in the base, cut side down. Cover with a disc of greaseproof paper and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes. Turn the endives over and cook for a further 5 minutes. Pour in 3 tablespoons water, cover with the paper disc and transfer to the oven for 20-25 minutes until the endives are soft. You can start to make the sauce while the endives are cooking. Leave to cool then wrap each half in a slice of ham. Lay in an ovenproof dish.
  2. Put the milk in a saucepan with the onion, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to just below boiling point, take off the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the onion and herbs and pour the milk into a jug. In a clean saucepan melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the infused milk, beating to a smooth sauce. Let the sauce bubble slowly for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the mustard and 60g of the cheese and keep stirring until the cheese has melted. Season with a little salt and pepper if necessary.
  3. Pour the cheese sauce over the endives and sprinkle with the remaining 30g cheese. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Brown under a hot grill just before serving.