Refreshing, crisp and slightly bitter; Belgian endive is a member of the chicory family.
In the U.S. we typically refer to Belgian endive as just endive. I find it a delicious and fascinating vegetable to enjoy in a variety of ways. I like to prepare them like little boats, filling them with delicious goodies. Today’s endives were filled with pecans, goat cheese, and a hint of lavender.
Belgian endive has been around for thousands of years, cultivated by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and has been a mainstay in many cultures. They are versatile, not only good eaten raw, but also baked, stir fried, and sautéed. Another delicious way to prepare them is to caramelize them with apples and walnuts, oh yes.... quite scrumptious.
From a medicinal perspective, Belgian endive is a bitter so it is great for stimulating a balanced digestive process. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals, mainly Vitamin A, C, K and E, as well as potassium and calcium. Endive is high in fiber and low in calorie. Research suggests that the antioxidants in endive act as anti-inflammatory compounds as well as increasing the body’s ability to repair damage to the cells. It is beneficial for cardiovascular health and aids in decreasing “bad” cholesterol. Studies have shown that including endive in your dietary repertoire can boost immune function, strengthen bones, and increase gastrointestinal health. It also appears that eating endive can help dissolve kidney stones and cleanse the liver and gall bladder. Endive is a pretty easy food to include in your diet, not to mention being delicious and fun to arrange in beautiful patterns. I say, give it a try.