Endives in Béchamel

Well lookie here … another recipe fresh off the heels of the ratatouille. I should mention that I kind of have something in the works to split my blog into two parts so that those who are just interested in the recipes can follow one feed, and those who have no interest whatsoever can completely ignore them. How’s that for considerate?

I know, I know.  I do try.

But it’s been on my mind to do at least one endive recipe with all the enticing crispy endives I see floating around in the stores. And so le voila!

Oh. Do you know what an endive is?

It’s a white type of chicory salad that has a lovely bitter taste, and which is delicious when prepared with special care. Actually, the endive is related to the daisy family so you can pluck its leaves to discern whether he loves me, he loves me not.

Start some water boiling in a large pot and preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Now it’s time to start the béchamel sauce. Put 2 ½ cups of milk in a small saucepan. Add ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. (Did you know that the French almost always put nutmeg in quiches? And mashed potatoes? And sauces like béchamel?)

Add 1/8 teaspoon white pepper and ½ teaspoon salt.

Now take a half of a small onion, and pin two bay leaves to each quarter using 4 cloves. Like so. (cute huh?)

Put the onions in the milk and simmer on very low heat.

Meanwhile your water should be boiling so put the endives in.

You’ll want to cook them until you can stick a knife near the root with some ease. About 15 minutes or so. Then drain.

The milk should be ready – make sure to catch it before it boils over.

You can see here it’s starting to simmer and rise. Strain out the onion etc, and the milk scum. (Sorry I said the word scum. That’s gross. But it’s even grosser to leave the scum in the milk).

Now take 4 tablespoons of flour and 4 tablespoons of butter and put them in a skillet. Let it melt, start to brown ever so slightly, form little gummy balls and give off a nice fragrance.

Then you want to add the milk a little at a time over very low heat.

Stir constantly.

And when you’ve added all the milk in, you will have absolutely perfect béchamel.

Two words about this sauce. First of all, if you’re in a pinch or feeling lazy, you can just pour regular milk slowly into the butter-flour mix as shown and then throw in the nutmeg, salt and pepper at the last minute. It’s still good without the onion-clove-bayleaf.

Second thing. If you’re making this gluten free, don’t use potato or corn or even rice flour. Either it will be too runny, or have lumps or it will be too gritty. Use amaranth, chick pea or chestnut flour. That should give you a nice consistency.

Of course I was very low on gluten free flours when I made this, and even knowing what I know, I used potato and corn flour to make it. What a lumpy mess (which you might notice in the end result of my finished endives).

So I made a separate batch of béchamel sauce today using amaranth flour, just to show you that a perfect gluten-free béchamel could be done. But honestly I could not think of foisting endives on my kids again, having already made it twice in the past two weeks.  And thus my lumpy béchamel stands.  

I’m ruined.  Utterly ruined, I tell you.

Cut the ends off the endives (don’t do this before you boil them or they will all fall apart).

Then slice them lengthwise in two, three or even four parts depending on how fat the endive is and how much of your dish you need to fill.

Squeeze the water out of each endive part so that your dish will not be watery.

Roll each endive in a half slice of ham (or turkey breast)

and place it in a 9×13 dish.

Cover it with the béchamel and grated swiss.

Bake at 350° for about 30 minutes or so. Until the cheese is melted and browned.

And because this might look just like any other cheesy casserole, let me hand you a plateful.

Vegetable-based and cheese-covered.  What’s not to love?!

To be honest, I’m not sure this dish will be a huge success with the kids, although you just never know until you try. And … it’s a bit risky to serve to guests – you know, being that it’s slices of ham wrapped around boiled salad and all. It also might be a bit much for you and your spouse to tackle just between the two you of you if you don’t want to be eating leftovers for days …

So, actually, never mind.

Endives in Béchamel
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Boiled endives wrapped in slices of ham, baked with béchamel and swiss cheese
Recipe type: Entrée
Serves: 6
  • 6 large endives
  • 12 slices ham
  • Béchamel Sauce as follows:
  • 2.5 c milk
  • ½ onion
  • ¼ t nutmeg
  • ⅛ t white pepper
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves
  • 4T butter (56 grams)
  • 4T flour
  • grated swiss - around 1 cup-full
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C
  2. Boil the endives
  3. Drain them
  4. Cut the ends off, then slice them lengthwise into 2-4 parts
  5. Squeeze the water out of the endive portions
  6. Wrap each one in a half slice of ham.
  7. Place them in rows in a 9x13" pan.
  8. For the sauce, cut 2 quarters of an onion.
  9. Pin the bay leaves to the onion with the cloves.
  10. Place them in a saucepan with the milk.
  11. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper and simmer on low.
  12. Before the milk boils and rises, skim the top off the milk mixture.
  13. Melt the flour and butter in a pan and pour the milk in slowly, stirring all the while.
  14. The béchamel should be lump-free by the time all the milk is added.
  15. Pour the béchamel sauce over the rolled endives.
  16. Sprinkle grated Swiss over that.
  17. Bake 30 minutes or until all the cheese is browned and melted.


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I am the daughter of a symphony musician who was raised in upstate New York, and I simply breathe all things classical, be it music or 19th century literature (English and Russian). I married Sir Renaissance in New York City, and before I knew it, he had swept me up and brought me back home to his own country. So here we are. Three children, a rather ordinary life in a rather exceptional place. I am now ‘A Lady in France.’

Posted in Food, La Cuisine (The Kitchen), Main Dishes, Tout le Reste (Everything else)
14 comments on “Endives in Béchamel
  1. chickster says:

    What a treat a to get another fabulous recipe so soon. I love your recipes and anything with ham, cheese and creamy sauce brings a big’ole smile to this household! Can’t wait to try it.

  2. Carole says:

    Wow, that looks good.
    Tried your ratatouille recipe and it was wonderful!

  3. Jennifer says:

    That looks delicious, and I was actually thinking the all the ham and cheese might trick my kids into eating it. Worth a try! Thanks for the recipe.

  4. Jackie says:

    It looks and sounds good to me but I don’t think that I can get my picky husband or kids to try it! But I would for sure!

  5. Ameena says:

    Is there anything that doesn’t taste amazing with bechamel spread all over it? :)

  6. Galit Breen says:

    This looks delicious and fancy. I’m totally in. :)

  7. Andi says:

    Endives look yummy and smell yummy but when I go to eat them, yuck something about the bitterness I can’t deal with. This looks amazing though and I know my hubby would LOVE it!

  8. I have decided I need to move to France and live with you.
    You’re okay with that, right?

    I promise not to take up too much space in the newly remodeled home. You’ll hardly know I’m there.

    (Except of course at mealtimes. Then all bets are off…)

  9. Leanne says:

    Oh, my gosh . . . . This looks SOOO good. SOOOO good!!!! Mmmmm . . .


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I'm Jennie. Welcome to A Lady in France! I write books, and also this blog on faith, French culture and recipes ... ( To continue reading, please click here. )

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