The endive is a somewhat bitter tasting chicory variety, offering a touch of vitamin-rich splendor to our dining during the winter months. Unfamiliar to many, this immensely versatile vegetable is a pleasure to eat raw, braised or roasted. And… what does it have to do with coffee?
Read on to find out the answer to this and to learn more about our multi-talented friend.
Plenty of tales abound relating to the origin of the endive. Edible endive is the product of complex cultivation processes. These processes were most likely developed in 19th century Belgium. Today’s cultivated endive originates from the common chicory, a blue flowered plant that grows along the fringes of fields. When starved of light, it’s roots send out shoots, which we now know as endive. Nowadays, since the endive likes things cool and dark, it’s mostly cultivated in special growing containers filled with a solution of plant nutrient.
Although endive is available year round, its main season extends from November through to April. The biggest producers are France, the Netherlands and, obviously, Belgium. It remain a main staple features of Belgian cuisine.
Have You Heard Of Chicory Coffee?
Coffee has been made from chicory root since the 17th century. Roasting chicory roots produces a caffeine-free coffee substitute, which has proved especially popular during times of coffee shortages (notably in the 20th Century during the Great Depression and World War II). Chicory coffee has its devotees to this day, particularly in New Orleans, LA, where it became a tradition during the Civil War, as well as in France and – of course – Belgium.
What do you think of the Belgian endive? How do you enjoy this versatile veggie – as coffee, oven roasted, in a salad, or do you have other culinary ideas? Use the comment function below this post to start/join in discussions with us on Facebook.
How To Buy and Store Belgian Endive
Color is the decisive factor in determining the quality of Belgian endives. It should be white with yellow leaf tips. If the ends of the leaves are green it will taste bitter. This is down to the effect of light during the cultivation process- chicory prefers the dark. For those who want an less bitter variety of chicory: Look for a variety with red leaf tips. It is a hybrid created from two radicchio varieties, and has a milder flavor. After purchasing, store chicory in your fridge. In a normal refrigerator compartment it will keep fresh for up to 18 days. In a Liebherr BioFresh compartment, it will keep fresh for up to 27 days.
A Vitamin-rich Winter Treat
Belgian endive won’t provide you with much energy. It does, however, pack quite a beta-carotene and potassium punch. Particularly during the colder winter months, it provides a welcome vitamin boost. Beta-carotene benefits our eyes, whilst potassium is important for the proper functioning of all our body’s cells, especially muscle and nerve cells. The bitter substances (intybins) found in endives assist our metabolism and digestion.