Usually I make witlof (Dutch for chicory) with ham and cheese in the oven but we were in the mood for something lighter and vegetarian. In the end I decided on caramelized and braised witlof (inspired by a recipe from Gordon Ramsey’s masterclass) served with a couscous salad and grilled halloumi with a lemon zest, mustard and honey dressing. It hit the spot!
Braised chicory, couscous salad and grilled halloumi
Most of the work in this dish is in the braised chicory / witlof, but the recipe is actually quite simple. The halloumi and couscous salad couldn't be easier! All the components in this dish are great to prepare separately in use in other dishes as well.
- BRAISED CHICORY
- 6 heads of chicory
- 2-3 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp (aged) balsamic vinegar
- 1 orange for zest and juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt to taste
- COUSCOUS SALAD
- 2 cups couscous
- 2 spring onions
- 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
- Fresh chopped herbs like koriander, parsley, mint, chives
- 1/2 cup toasted pinenuts
- For acidity: A squeeze of fresh lemon or lime or red wine vinegar
- Fresh chilli or dried chillu flakes
- Olive oil
- Any other veggies you'd like to add
- GRILLED HALLOUMI
- 1-2 packets halloumi (depends on how hungry you are
- Olive oil
- Lemon juice & zest
- Chilli flakes
Peel off the outer bruised leaves of the chicory and use a paring knife to trim off a small amount of the stem. Make sure to not cut off too much of the stem, too close and the leaves will fall off during cooking.
Cut the trimmed chicory in half lengthwise, place cut side up on a sheet tray and sprinkle with some salt.
Dust all over with powdered sugar, turning to cover every side.
Drizzle the cut side with the balsamic vinegar and finish off with the zest of half of the orange.
Heat some olive oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Place the chicory cut side down into the hot pan and caramelize until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
Dust any remaining powdered sugar into the pan.
Flip the chicory over and deglaze the pan with orange juice.
Add the remaining olive oil and orange zest.
Braise gently for 2-3 minutes until the chicory is slightly soft and the liquid becomes the consistency of a glaze.
Taste and Season with more salt if needed
Put the couscous in a large bowl and cover with boiling water, with about 1 cm water above the couscous. Close the bowl off with a lid or a plate so it can steam for 5 minutes.
When done use a fork to fluff up the couscous, it will double in size. Let it cool while prepping the rest of the ingredients.
Toast the pinenuts.
Chop all the ingredients you want to add, how fine or rough as you like.
When couscous has cooled mix through all the chopped ingredients and the pine nuts.
Add a good glug of olive oil, your acidity of choice (I used lemon juice in this one) and season well with pepper and salt.
If adding a soft cheese, like goats cheese, best to add this right at the end so it doesn't get all mushed up when your mixing everything together.
Slice the halloumi in slices anywhere between 0,5 cm and 1 cm. The thicker the softer it will stay, the thinner the crispier. Don't go under 0,5 cm or it will fall apart while grilling.
Marinate the halloumi in olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest for about 5-10 minutes (or for how much time you have).
Heat a grill pan until smoking (non stick frying pan works as well, but I really like the charred grilled flavour I get from the grill pan). Don't oil the pan, you already have enough on the halloumi.
Add the halloumi to the pan and grill until charred on both sides, will take about 2-3 minutes each side.
For colour contrast (and flavour) I always like to sprinkle over some chilli flakes.
Optional for the couscous salad: sometimes I like adding something sweet to counterbalance the halloumi, like apple, raisins or dates