Endive is a small head of lettuce with a cylindrical shape. It is usually about 6 inches long and consists of curly, tightly packed pale yellow leaves. The visage of endive portrays elegance, it looks fancy and could make a bowl of salad look very lively. But endive doesn’t just play ornamental roles.
What does Endive taste like? Endive has a slightly bitter taste. Endive has a crisp texture that makes it perfect for salads and an elegant refined look that can make your dish look regal. Cooking endive will slightly change the taste and texture. The taste of endive is an acquired taste.
Endive is not as popular as other greens that make it into everyday cooking and salads, but it is just as versatile as they are.
Nutritional Benefits of Endive
Just like every other green you can eat, endive has a lot of amazing health benefits. It does a lot of good in the body, especially in pregnant women, it ensures that they have a healthy pregnancy with little or no complications. Endive contains dietary fiber, iron, niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium, thiamine, and vitamins A, E, and K.
Apart from ensuring a very healthy pregnancy, one of the things endive does best is to help detoxify the liver. Whether you eat it raw or drink the juice, endive is a way to detox your body using natural components. The nutrients in this veggie do this by stimulating the gallbladder; the organ in the body responsible for the secretion of bile. Bile helps to remove toxins from the liver, the accumulation of toxins in the liver could prove detrimental to the well-being of the body.
Our mouth is filled with bacteria both good and bad. Poor oral health can allow the transfer of bacteria (the bad kind) from our mouth to the body. Apart from carrying out oral and dental hygiene, endives can help promote oral health. It can do this because it has antibacterial properties.
As we grow old, our cognitive reasoning and motor function begin to decline and this opens up a whole lot of problems. Endive contains antioxidants and minerals that can improve brain function even in the latter stages of life by strengthening brain cells and tissues.
Endive helps to keep memory deterioration away and reduces the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s occurring at old age. The vitamin A present in endive does well to boost eye health and reduces the rate of macular degeneration. It also helps to treat acute respiratory complications like asthma in children. It prevents gallstone disease, helps with anorexia, balances cholesterol levels, and promotes digestion. The nutritional benefits of endive are nothing short of magic.
Culinary Uses of Endive
Endives are usually used in salads, especially salads with French origins. Chefs seem to like them because of the liveliness that they bring to dishes. But endive can do much better than just salads; it can be paired with dishes or foods that have a stronger flavor than salads.
You can try cutting up the endive into cream soups. It can be baked, roasted, or braised. To make a side dish, you can have olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar, seasoning, and pepper and you have a fast cooking side dish that doesn’t look boring.
With endive, all you need is a wild imagination, you could hardly go wrong with it. Its slightly bitter taste could bring contrast to dishes that would otherwise be considered overly sweet. You can cook endive to reduce the slightly bitter taste and have it replace lettuce or cabbage in your recipes. It adds more crunch to the dish. Endive will also feel right at home in stir-fry dishes and would act as a source of nutrients you don’t have much in the pan.
Endive can be grilled or sautéed, there are just so many ways you can use this green in your kitchen. To get the best-tasting endive, you have to harvest them on time otherwise it can get woody or too woody if left for too long.
If you want to try it out yourself, Feasting Not Fasting has a fun appetizer recipe that uses grapefruit, pecans and feta to compliment the bitterness of the endive. All paired together it makes for a delicious combination!
Where is Endive Grown? How to Procure It?
There are three types of endive; Escarole, Belgian Endive, and Curly Endive or Frisée. They differ slightly from each other but the most common variant is the Belgian Endive, which is also known as the red endive, and as the name suggests it is grown in Belgium.
Endive grows mainly in Europe and is very popular there. In some places, it is known as leaf chicory. It is usually grown in dark rooms away from light so that its color and subtle flavor can be preserved.
Endive is sold as it is and is not usually bagged. If you walk into a store it should be easy to spot because its shape and color are quite distinctive.
How Do You Preserve Endive?
Endive might look delicate, but it is somewhat durable. If you want to preserve the endive for a while, all you need to do is store it (unwashed) in the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator. It would still be edible for at least a week.
Facts You Don’t Know About Endive
- The meaning of endive can be a little confusing, it refers to the leafy part of any bitter-flavored plant in the chicory family.
- The scientific name for endive is Cichorium endivia.