You may have grilled romaine, but how about grilled endive?

Thanks to modern farming techniques, endive is available year-round.

It can be grilled, added to salads, or used as “boats” to hold finger foods at parties—the latter an easy-to-make, no-cooking dish that looks impressive. Appetizers, salads, mains, sides, soups—even for dessert, you can make a type of Tarte Tatin using endive instead of apples.

Here are dozens of endive recipes from California endive growers.

If you’re grilling this weekend, here’s a simple side with big flavor.

Grilled endives also provide the base for a great summer salad. See the variation below.

A leaf of endive has just one calorie! It’s a good source of potassium, vitamins, and minerals, high in complex fiber, and promotes digestive health.
 
 
RECIPE: GRILLED BELGIAN ENDIVE

Ingredients

  • 3-4 heads endive, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: chopped fresh rosemary
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the grill over a medium flame. Brush each endive half with olive oil and place on the grill, cut side down to start. Let cook for 8–10 minutes.

    2. TURN over and cook the endives for another 12-15 minutes, turning occasionally and lowering the flame if needed until the endives soften.

    3. SEASON with salt and pepper, garnish with chopped rosemary. Serve hot or allow to cool and serve at room temperature

    Variation

    For a salad, cut the grilled and cooled endives crosswise into one-inch slices. Mix with crumbled feta or goat chevre, roasted nuts, and baby arugula, dressed with additional olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or lime as desired.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF BELGIAN ENDIVE

    Belgian endive (Cichorium intybus var. foliosum) is a member of the chicory family, Asteraceae, which includes Belgian endive, curly endive, escarole, frisée, puntarelle, and radicchio.

    They are part of the chicory family of leafy greens (Asteraceae, the daisy family). They can be enjoyed raw or cooked.

    Belgian endive and curly endive are both in the chicory genus. Belgian endive is botanically known as part of Chichorium intybus. It’s grown from chicory roots in a dark environment.

    Shaped like a torpedo, Belgian endive grows to about six inches in length. It has tender white leaves with either yellow or red-colored leaf edges.

    Belgian endive is a pleasantly bitter, nutty, and refreshingly crisp vegetable with a delicate crunch. Once considered a luxury imported from Europe, it is now grown in California year-round).

    The ancestral plant is native to western Asia, North Africa, and Europe [source]. The plant has a history reaching back to ancient Egypt.

    In ancient Rome, a dish called puntarelle was made with chicory sprouts. It was mentioned by the Roman poet Horace (65 B.C.E. to 8 B.C.E.) in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple:

     

    Grilled Endive
    [1] Grilled Belgian endive tastes even better with a sprinkling of rosemary leaves (all photos © Endive.com).

    Endive With Root
    [2] This is what endive looks like when it’s pulled from the ground. The long roots of the chicory family of plants can be dried and ground for a coffee substitute.

    Belgian Endive For Grilled Belgian Endive Recipe
    [3] Belgian endive has two subspecies: green tips and red tips.

     
    Me pascunt olivae, me cichorea, me malvae” (“As for me, olives, endives, and mallows provide sustenance”).
    The wild plant has been cultivated in Europe since the 16th century.

    But the variety known as Belgian endive was first discovered by accident in the 1830s by Jan Lammers, a Belgian chicory farmer. After harvesting the greens, he decided to store the roots in his cellar to dry and use as a coffee substitute.

    Lammers had to leave his farm for several months to serve in the Belgian War of Independence. When he returned he discovered that the chicory roots had sprouted small, white leaves. He tasted them and found them to be tender, moist, and pleasingly bitter.

    It took another few decades to commercially cultivate what he called witloof chicory. Witloof is Flemish for “white leaf.”

    A Belgian botanist named Brézier then went on to refine a cultivation method to the point where it could be grown commercially. Markets in Brussels began carrying endive in 1846, and then in 1872 it was introduced in Paris and it became so popular (and pricey) that it was nicknamed “white gold” [source].

    Endive is pricey because it’s one of the most difficult vegetables in the world to grow. There’s a two-step growing process:

  • The first growth takes about 150 days in the field, where the chicory grows from seed into a leafy green plant with a deep tap root.
  • At harvest, the tops of the leafy plant are cut off, and the roots are dug up and placed in cold storage, where they enter a dormancy period.
  • Based on marketplace demand, these roots are removed from cold storage for their second growth, which takes 28 days in dark, cool, humid forcing rooms (similar to a mushroom growing facility).
  • This labor-intensive growing technique is called blanching. The control over the initiation of this second growing process allows for the year-round production of endive.
  •  
    In contrast, curly endive, Cichorium endivia, which includes batavia lettuce, escarole, and frisée, is simply grown in the fields as green curly lettuce.

    Commercially grown Belgian endive is exported mainly from western Europe with Belgium contributing the largest share [source].
     
     

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    The post Grilled Belgian Endive Recipe & The History Of Belgian Endive first appeared on The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures.
    The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures

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