Know your Endives

Endive frisée, notice the lightly blanched centre

  • Endive , Cichorium endivia, is a leaf vegetable belonging to the daisy family. 

  • Endive can be cooked or used raw in salads.

  • Endive belongs to the chicory genus.

  • Endive is rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially in folate and vitamins A and K, and is high in fibre.

  • There are two main varieties of cultivated endive:

    • Frisée

      • Curly endive, or frisée, Cichorium endivia var. crispum. 

      • This type has narrow, green, curly outer leaves. 

    • Escarole, or broad-leaved endive, Cichorium endivia var. latifolia, has broad, pale green leaves and is less bitter than the other varieties. 

      • Varieties or names include broad-leaved endive, Bavarian endive, Batavian endive, grumolo, scarola, and scarole. 

      • It is eaten like other greens, sauteed, chopped into soups and stews, or as part of a green salad.

Endive escarole

  • The endive is a popular feature of the Continental but not the English salad. 

  • Endive has a much more distinctive taste than lettuce and has the advantage of being available between January and March from the garden. 

  • By sowing at monthly intervals you can have heads for six months or more during the year, but you will always have to blanch them before cutting in order to remove much of the bitterness. 

  • The curly-leaved (frisée) varieties are sown in spring and summer for their finely divided frizzy leaves in summer and autumn. 

  • The broad-leaved (escarole) sorts are hardier – cloche-covered heads will survive the winter.