Endive are a great source of vitamins and folate and make for elegant dishes. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Walt Hubis.
Besides looking pretty on a plate of appetizers, endive leaves are a great addition to a salad or sandwich if you’re sick of boring old lettuce.
A member of the chicory family, endive is “an interesting and different way to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet,” says nutritionist Elana Natker. The two types of endive, Belgian and curly, are good sources of folate, which is highly recommended for pregnant women. In addition, Belgian endive contains vitamin A and B, while curly endive is high in vitamin K.
And since the plant grows best in the dark, it’s a great option for a winter vegetable. You’re likely to find endive in grocery stores now.
What it tastes like: Endive is known for its bitter taste. “That’s why I don’t think it’s most people’s first go-to vegetable,” Natker says. But with the right ingredients, you can offset the taste to your liking.
How to prepare them: As with any vegetable, Natker says to rinse the vegetable and pat dry. If you’re going to serve raw, simply rip off the leaves. The leaves of Belgian endive work well as scoopers—Natker recommends serving them with tapenade or hummus. If you’re going to sauté them, slice the leaves just as you would any other leafy green, like kale or spinach.
How to cook endive: The Belgian variety is extremely versatile; it can be eaten raw, roasted, grilled, or sautéed. It’s perfect for a side dish or as a crunchy addition to grains, soups, salads, and sandwiches. Curly endive can be chopped and cooked until just wilted, or added to a soup or salad, as well. Both types will keep, refrigerated, for one to two weeks.