Among the horticultural phobias and phobias, the endive (sometimes seen as endive, we already know how much it rides so much) may be the one that generates the most. Crunchy, very aromatic and slightly bitter, our green friend is summed up in a tight bud, with which we can be very original in the kitchen.
It is usual that we distribute it in salads, but it is very recurrent give it out as a starter or aperitif, practically any dip sauce goes well, or even a simple vinaigrette sauce.
Also, of course, it has become a great ally of intense cheeses, like a roquefort, which it can accompany as a little boat, although the gourmand contrasts like this example with pear and walnuts are not lagging behind.
It is true that endive is one of the products that generates mixed feelings – and those who write them feel that way, since when I was little I could not even see them and when I grew up I love them – and that, well used, they are a long-haul product to enjoy from fall to summer, having an interesting spring boom.
What is endive
Our bitter friend, easily recognizable as a tight white heart and a light green exterior, it is botanically the Cichorium endivia, belonging to the family of the compound Asteraceae, being a member of a tremendously important plant group.
In that same family we find, for example, lettuce, artichokes, thistle, sunflower, chamomile or Jerusalem artichoke. However, you may have observed that the botanical name of the endive takes us to another old and bitter acquaintance: chicory, whose botanical classification is Cichorium intybus.
Beyond that, we find various varieties within the Cichorium endivia, such as the latifolium or the crispum, from which we mainly obtain the endive, and the crispa variety, which is where we get the commercial endive that we know.
With the taxonomic mess resolved, let’s go to the crux of the matter. What is an endive? Well basically we are talking about a tender bud, to which it is not allowed to grow – if not, it would become an endive – and which owes its whitish color to not having chlorophyll.
Between pale and ivory, the endive is a vegetable with smooth and small leaves, with a fresh taste and bitter aftertaste, easily recognizable by its pointed and cylindrical shape, made up of tight leaves that turn yellow towards the tip. As for the size, the usual thing is that they measure between eight and ten centimeters long, having a diameter that rarely exceeds four centimeters thick.
Current extension and cultivation
Chicory carries forming part of the Mediterranean diet for centuries. Not in vain, the Romans and Greeks already consumed it in its wild form, serving as a seasoning and seasoning. Centuries later, the use of chicory even emerged as a cheap alternative to coffee, thus moving from its fresh and almost wild consumption to another type of consumption.
Sharing that common trunk, our beloved endive -much more modern- came to the gastronomic arena in the mid-nineteenth century almost by mistake. For this we have to move to the Botanical Garden of Brussels, where they noticed that the chicory roots, when covered with earth, ended up offering long, tender shoots, very crunchy and with a pleasant flavor.
The other theory, also in Belgium, the cradle of this vegetable, would lead us to a small farmer who resorted to lightly burying his chicory to ensure its durability during the winter. For this reason, he covered his fields with more land and ended up realizing that this protection allowed him to enjoy them for longer.
Both theories are plausible and serve as the origin for endives, which are found under two modes of production: natural and witloof (white leaves in Dutch). The first consists of covering the roots with soil and closing the bud with the outer leaves or with paper, preventing photosynthesis.
The second, more industrial, that usually done in the dark in greenhouses where all the parameters of light, heat, humidity and irrigation are controlled, which in just three weeks offers crisp, fresh and clean endives.
Beyond this universe and outside our borders, chicory is highly appreciated in some neighboring countries such as Italy, where the radicchio has just fame, in addition to the fresh and natural consumption that French and Belgians usually make from chicory.
Nutritional properties and benefits
94% of the endive is water, so we can imagine that it is a product with very few calories, in addition to residual values of carbohydrates, lipids or proteins.
However, it has an interesting amount of fiber, in addition to certain minerals such as potassium, calcium or phosphorus, which makes it a good ally to promote diuresis, so it will be great for those who suffer from fluid retention.
Its contribution of folates, necessary to produce red and white blood cells, in addition to provitamin A, which our body synthesizes into vitamin A according to its needs, is relevant and which can be very useful for us. maintain good eye health, in addition to strengthening our defenses and tissues.
Tips for buying and storing endives
Good, pretty and cheap and in very good season in spring, one of the times of the year when we export the most, although its production is very sustained throughout the year, finding it easily in the markets and being very popular in the fields of Segovia, Valladolid and Navarra.
Generally we will find them in plastic packs, covered by perforated film, and we will rarely find them loose because they are quite delicate. When we are before them, we must make sure that it is fresh, white and very tight.
A good way to tell if an endive is fresh is to look at the tips of the leaves, which should be a soft and bright green color, They should not be limp or soft, or with limp or bruised leaves. At home, they require a refrigerator in the coolest part of it, preferably in a perforated bag.
Although they hold moderately well for several days, it is better to consume them immediately and, if not, do not cut, wash or separate them until the moment of consumption. In addition, it is better to cover them so that the light does not alter the natural white of their leaves. Perhaps with it they begin to green, which does not diminish their taste, but their appearance.
How to use them in the kitchen
We generally consume endives natural, thus appreciating their crisp and fresh bite. What’s more, they do not require a lot of previous work, although it is convenient to clean them.
It will be enough to cut the base of the trunk, which is somewhat harder, and separate the leaves, washing them under a stream of cold water to eliminate any possible bichillo or rest of earth, and, as a good green leaf, dry and drain before use, which should be immediate so that they do not start to soften.
Outside of the fresh, it can be prepared cooked, roasted, fried and even grilled, being its versatility as an accompaniment one of its great virtues. The clearest example is that of salads, where it is usually good to serve it whole, in half or in pieces.
Especially if it is accompanied by certain flavor contrasts such as sweet fruits or different textures such as eggs, tuna, prawns or smoked salmon, lightening the bite with that bitter counterpoint.
The salty ones also usually go well, for example the cured cheese or the anchovies -or both-, or sauces based on the two mentioned examples. Do not lose sight of more acidic or slightly lactic sauces like yogurt or mayonnaise.
Another option is to directly assemble an endive tray with a little foie or with the versatility of nuts, which also provide more crunchiness.
In the kitchen, it does not hurt to take it braised or cooked, just scalded, so that it maintains its crispness but with some temperature and that can be accompanied by a mayonnaise or a vinaigrette, or a touch of oil.
Finally and not forgetting that we usually have minors at home and, if they do not share with the bitterness of the endive, Let’s bet on gratins or bechameles (Dairy to the rescue again) to mitigate that intensity.
Six recipes to get the full potential of endives
They are able to solve you an aperitif, a snack or to be part of a garnish de aúpa that may well be served by fish, meat and, of course, other vegetables. All a seasonal luxury that is difficult to resist and with which we tempt you today.
Endive salad, surimi and roquefort sauce
A great dish to share with the family without complications, or to offer as a snack if we have guests on any occasion. Roquefort cheese adds the note of flavor to a very colorful and fresh salad, quick to prepare.
- Ingredients. 120 g of chopped Roquefort cheese, 60 g of white wine, 200 g of liquid cream, salt, ground black pepper, 4 endives, 1 packet of surimi packet, 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds.
- Elaboration. We put the Roquefort cheese and the white wine in a saucepan over the fire and heat it, always stirring, until everything melts and a cream forms. Add the cream and pepper, stir, pour into a bowl and let it cool off the heat. We open the endives, wash them and drain them, then we distribute them on the tray where we are going to serve the salad. We chop the surimi and distribute it over the endives. We bathe it with the sauce and, finally, sprinkle with the sliced almonds.
Direct link to the full recipe | Endive salad, surimi and roquefort sauce
Warm salad of braised endives with belly
In this salad we do have to cook, but nothing out of the other world. Braising the endives previously we get another texture and different flavor, in case the raw vegetable does not convince us. A good tuna belly or bonito canned puts the icing on the plate.
- Ingredients. 4 small endives, 5 ml balsamic vinegar 5 ml, 2.5 ml worcestershire sauce (Perrins), 2 tuna belly canned or bonito in oil, chives, ground black pepper, salt, extra virgin olive oil.
- Elaboration. Cook them in slightly salted water …