Have you discovered the beauty of Belgian endive? This slightly bitter, crunchy, hearty vegetable is a versatile ingredient in the kitchen and worth adding to your repertoire if you are looking for a new vegetable to try. Curious to know more?
Let's take a look at what you can do with Belgian endive...
What is Belgian endive?
Belgian endive, also known as French endive, is a bitter, cream-coloured vegetable shaped like a torpedo. It is grown in complete darkness and is available year round, with peak season from November to April. One of Belgian endives’ peculiarities is that they can’t actually grow on their own in the wild. Farmers take wild chicory roots and sprout them in the dark. As the root sprouts a new shoot, which is white instead of green as it would be out in the open, the farmers heap soil or sawdust around the shoot to keep it enlarging without leafing out. The result, instead of bitter chicory, is the mellow and tender endive.
How To Store Endive
The best way to store this sharp-flavoured vegetable is to wrap it in a paper towel, place inside a plastic storage bag and refrigerate it.
Belgian endive is a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins B6, K, and C, potassium, magnesium, calcium and copper. One head of Belgian endive contains just 87 calories. This vegetable is also rich in fibre and phytonutrients. If the word phytonutrients sounds like some superpowers, that’s because they are. These plant-based compounds are part of plants’ immune systems and can fight and prevent all kinds of diseases in the human body.
How to prep and serve Belgian Endive
When cleaning your endives, don’t wash or soak them, it brings out their bitterness. If they need to be cleaned, wipe them with a moist, damp cloth. Pull off the outer leaves and cut out some of the bitter, cone-shaped core. When serving, pick sweet flavours to balance out the endive’s bitterness: think citrus, apples or pears. This vegetable also works well with white sauce and cheese in different forms.
Belgian Endive Recipes
Belgian endive makes a great addition to salads, especially those that contain cheese, but it can also stand up to heat. It is delicious sautéed with butter and it may be braised, grilled, and added to soups and stews, pastas, quiches and sandwiches.
With that in mind, here are some great Belgian endive recipes you should try:
Stuffed Endive Leaves
image via Alexandra Cooks
If you are looking for an easy yet stunning appetiser then Belgian endive is your friend. Gently separate the leaves and place them on a platter. Fill with your favourite cheese and nut combo (you may also use cured meat, tuna, hummus, etc.), sprinkle with herbs and drizzle with vinaigrette.
Belgian Endive Salad
A sumptuous salad that is both bitter and sweet thanks to the blend of Belgian endive, plums, apple, and a lemon-honey vinaigrette.
Belgian Endive Salad with a Chef's Touch
For a stellar dish that will impress your dinner guests try this deconstructed Belgian endive salad from Italian chef Davide Scabin.
Gordon Ramsay's Braised Endive
Grand Marnier adds a magical touch to this tasty braised endive recipe from British chef Gordon Ramsay.
With just a handful of ingredients you can make a rich and creamy gratin of endives and ham. You'll love this easy French recipe!