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What Does Endive Taste Like?


Endive is a cousin to lettuce and has a bright coloring and a distinct taste. You’ve probably seen this vegetable in cooking shows or the produce aisle. But what does endive taste like?

Today’s food guide is all about endive taste and its versatile uses. We will share the best ways to use fresh endive in many recipes.

brown bag with endive, sliced endive next to it

What Is Endive?

Endive is a type of leafy vegetable that’s part of the chicory plant family. At first glance, it looks like lettuce, but endive has a rough and crisp texture. Compared to lettuce, endives are smaller and have yellow-green leaves.

Endives are winter vegetables, but they can be available year-round. Farmers plant these vegetables inside and bury them underground. They then cover the plots with sand so sunlight won’t affect the growing process.

Endives Types

There are two common varieties of endives: Belgian endive and curly endive.

True to its name, Belgian endive originally comes from Belgium. Most of this endive variety is directly imported from Belgium and sold worldwide.

Belgian endive looks like cylindrical lettuce head. It has light yellow leaves that are tight-knit around the core. It’s typically used as a salad green and a staple in French cuisine.

Curly endive is another variety known for its curly bright green leaves. It’s an essential ingredient in endive salad and pairs well with sour flavors. Of the two types, curly endive is more readily available and affordable.

Other leafy greens in the chicory family include escarole and radicchio. Escarole is similar to endive with its crunchy texture and bitter taste. Radicchio has purple cabbage-like leaves and pairs well with blue cheese dressing.

What Does Endive Taste Like?

Raw endive leaves have a slightly bitter taste. Although some people consider it an acquired taste, raw endive is fresh and delicious. Its strong, bitter flavor pairs well with sweet and sour tastes.

What Does Belgian Endive Taste Like?

Belgian endive tastes bitter with crisp and rough textures. Its smooth shape makes it a great addition to salads paired with dressing or olive oil. Belgian endive tastes best when grilled, roasted, or braised.

What Does Curly Endive Taste Like?

Curly endive tastes similar to Belgian endive with its bitter taste. But its curly leaves allow for more experimentation in recipes. Curly endive is best served in salads with olive oil and goat cheese.

Can You Eat Endive Raw?

Yes, you can eat endive raw. In fact, many people prefer endive eaten raw or served in raw salads. But take note that raw endive has a distinct bitter taste. We recommend pairing it with a salad dressing or adding lemon juice, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar to combat this flavor.

How To Use Endive In Recipes

What’s excellent about endive is that it goes with many recipes. Despite its bitter flavor, endive tastes perfect with contrasting flavors.

Here’s a list of the many delicious ways to eat endive.

Salads

Endive is a popular ingredient in salads. Its crunchy leaves work as a base for the dressing and other toppings. It may also work as a substitute for lettuce. You can add them as whole leaves or cut them into strips.

Due to the endive’s bitter taste, it’s best to pair it with acidic ingredients. We recommend using salad dressings like aioli and hollandaise sauce. You can also use ranch dressing, but it doesn’t have the same acidity as the others.

Aioli sauce consists of egg yolk, garlic, and olive oil. Hollandaise has the same ingredients, except it has more eggs and butter. If you want a tangier flavor, add a squeeze of lemon or lime.

We recommend sprinkling chopped walnuts, almonds, or cashews for extra flavor and crunch. Endive also tastes excellent with blue cheese or goat cheese.

Appetizers

You can also use endive for appetizers. The leaves are sturdy enough to shape and place other ingredients. Separate the endive leaves, wash them clean, and pat them dry. Top the leaves with walnuts, grapes, or cheese. Finish it off with a drizzle of vinaigrette or a tangy sauce. 

Braised

Since the endive is tough and chewy when raw, some people like to braise the leaves to soften them. Braising is typically done with red meats to tenderize them. This involves browning the ingredient at high temperatures. Afterward, the dish simmers in a cooking liquid for some time.

When it comes to endive, we recommend seasoning the leaves and grilling them on an open fire. Then let the endives simmer in a pot with chicken or vegetable broth.

Braising also helps soften the endives and gives them flavor. This removes the bitter taste and allows the vegetable to absorb the seasonings. Braising is the best way if you’re making soup.

Stir Fries

Endives also taste delicious in stir-fries. You can use them as an alternative to cabbage, a staple ingredient in Asian stir-fries. They add a crisp and crunchy texture to fried noodles or rice. You can also lessen the bitter flavors by adding soy sauce, oyster sauce, and other seasonings.

Grilled

Grilling endives is another way of serving these chicories. You can cook them lightly charred to give the endives a smoky, umami flavor. We recommend seasoning the vegetables with salt, pepper, and olive oil before grilling. This is a great way to eat endives if you don’t want to serve them raw.

Baked

Endives also make for an excellent roast. Baking softens endive leaves and adds a depth of flavor. You can brush them with olive oil or butter before placing them on a baking sheet. We recommend baking them until browned and pairing them with acidic sauces.

Health Benefits of Eating Endives

Endive offers many health benefits. It’s rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also low in calories, with only one calorie per leaf. Endive’s most notable benefit is kaempferol, which is an anti-inflammatory compound.

Endive’s fiber content promotes digestive health. It’s perfect for any diet and is gluten-free, as well.

This vegetable is also rich in vitamins A and C, which are essential for eye and immune health. Lastly, the endive contains tons of potassium, which is good for the heart.

What Makes Endive Expensive?

Endive is expensive because of its long and complicated farming process. This vegetable, especially Belgian endive, is directly imported from Belgium. The added importation fees affect the store price.

How Do You Make Endive Less Bitter?

The best way to make the endive less bitter is to add contrasting flavors. Add salt, butter, or sugar to balance the leaves’ bitterness. You can also blanch endive before adding them to the dish.

What Recipes Can I Make With Endive?

There are many recipes that feature endive. But it’s typically used in fresh salads. Endive leaves add a delicious crunch to the recipe.

How Do You Store Endive Properly?

The best way to store endive is to place it in an airtight container and keep it away from sunlight. We recommend storing it in the fridge to extend its shelf life from three to five days.

Summary

Endive is a green leafy vegetable from the chicory family. It looks a lot like lettuce but has smooth and pale yellow leaves. It’s a common ingredient in salads but can also be grilled, braised, or roasted.

So, what does endive taste like? Endives have a slightly bitter taste with crunchy textures. Pairing them with acidic ingredients lessens the bitterness. We recommend using lemon, vinegar, or yogurt to balance out the taste.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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