Endive / Escarole is really a traditional, herbaceous leafy plant that is among the Asteraceae (daisy) family of the genus Cichorium and is closely related to chicory, radicchio and Belgian endive (witloof). Its scientific name is – Cichorium endivia.
Originating from the Mediterranean area, they have been recognized for thousands of years through the Romans, Greeks and Egyptian civilization.
This cool-season crop requires well-drained fertile soil to flourish. There are two main cultivar varieties exist: curly-endive (frisee, cichorium endivia, var crispum) with curly narrow leaves and Escarole or scarole (cichorium endivia, var latifolia) with broad leaves. Escarole leaves have spine like-dentate margins (dandelion or lettuce like) with thick stalks. Its leaves are less bitter than narrow, curly, intensely bitter-taste of “frisee”.
Belgian endive or witloof is a popular winter season vegetable in Europe. It is a type of vegetable with smooth cream-colored leaves compressed into a compact 10 to 12 cm long heads.
Endive is also commonly known as escarole.
- Endive is one of the very low calorie leafy vegetable. 100 g fresh leaves provide just 17 calories; however, it contributes about 8% of daily-required intake (DRI) of fiber.
- Current research studies suggest that high inulin and fiber content in escarole help reduce glucose and LDL cholesterol levels in diabetes and obese patients.
- Endive is enriched with good amount Vitamin A and ß-carotene. Both compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Carotenes convert to vitamin A in the body. Furthermore, vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. In addition, it is also essential vitamin for good eye-sight. Consumption of natural vegetables/greens rich in vitamin A helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Further, it contains good amounts of many essential B-complex groups of vitamins such as folic acid, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish and required for fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism.
- Additionally, escarole is a good source of minerals like manganese, copper, iron, and potassium. Manganese is used as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Potassium is an important intracellular electrolyte helps counter the hypertension effects of sodium.
A detailed nutritional analysis can be found at: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2445/2
WHERE TO BUY AND HOW TO SELECT
Fresh endive is available all around the year in the markets.
Choose crispy, tender leafy tops. Avoid tough, yellow discolored leaves. Whenever selecting a Belgian endive head of lettuce ensure that the foliage is smooth and crispy. The bottom part of the endive needs to be white as well as the top needs to be possibly yellow or even reddish. Make certain that none of the leaves are browning.
It is advisable to keep Belgian endive within a cool dark place. If it is subjected to an excessive amount of light it will make it bitter. If you are planning to keep the endive in the fridge then place it inside a plastic bag with a dry paper towel to soak up any condensation. It will stay fresh for 3-4 days.
TIPS FOR PREPARING
Wash fresh endive in cool flowing water. Dispose of yellow or any kind of stained leaves. Eliminate tough lower ends. Cut the leaves utilizing paring knife.
HOW TO ENJOY
Endives are crisp and bitter when raw, making them a great addition to brighten up salads. When cooked, endive’s sharp flavor softens into a mellow sweetness — whether steamed, grilled or braised. They’re one versatile ingredient for your kitchen.
There are many recipes that can be found on the Internet from soups to gourmet dishes.
Endive is widely consumed all over Europe and in some American states. Although this green leafy vegetable contains high concentrations of bitter glycosides and inulin, no known side effects so far has been noted, when eaten in moderation.