Not quite my mother’s witlof

Every household in the Netherlands, and probably every family with Dutch ancestors around the world, has its own variation of this recipe. Why? Because witlof is available year-round and super affordable. However, not everyone is too fond of this vegetable for its bitter core. And the way your parents prepared it is a great influence on how much you liked it. I did like it, and I still do. But as you might have guessed by the title of this post, this is not my mother's recipe. I remember that we ate witlof quite often. I also remember that we mostly ate it in a similar way to this recipe. I am also sure that my mother never used a recipe, and therefore couldn't give it to me if I asked for it. So here is my own version of that memory. Enjoy!


- Preheat your oven to 220ᵒC.

- Cut the witlof lengthwise and remove the outer leaves and the core (unless you like the bitter taste of the core, then by all means leave it in).

- Cook the witlof for 5 - 7 minutes, depending on how soft you like it to be. When it's ready, place the witlof in a colander to remove as much water as possible.

- While you wait for the witlof to cook, start the sauce by melting 30g butter in a saucepan and adding 20g flour. Whisk together and let it cook out for a couple of minutes. It should froth, but keep a pale colour.

- Then slowly add 300ml whole milk while whisking continuously. Keep stirring until the sauce starts to thicken and whisk in 2 tbsp mustard. Make sure that there are no clumps of mustard left, your nose will thank you for it.

- Finish the sauce by stirring in 60g grated cheese and adding nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. When you think it's ready, take the saucepan of the heat.

- Take your favourite ovenproof dish (not too large) and place the potato slices at the bottom. Spread half of the sauce over the potatoes.

- Divide the cooked witlof over the slices of ham, role them up, and place the roles in the oven dish.

- Cover the witlof with what's left of the sauce, and some grated cheese.

- Bake for 10 - 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, and divide over two plates.


500g witlof
225g pre-cooked potato

100g ham (4 - 6 slices)

30g butter
20g flour
300ml whole milk
2tbsp mustard
60g grated cheese
salt & pepper

Serves 2

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