Eureka! There’s a reason the Belgian Endive was nicknamed “white gold” when it arrived in Paris in 1872. Known in its native country as Witloof Chicory (translated: white leaf) – Belgian Endive was a humble farmer’s accidental discovery over 200 years ago which exploded onto Europe’s culinary scene in a big way. Now endive provides a delicious accent to any salad, soup or dip recipe plus many other dishes for those who are trying to broaden their palette while still choosing a path of eating healthy.
Many people wonder how the adventure of this curious little vegetable all began. Endive is believed to have originated in Egypt or Indonesia in the 16th century; the official story however, is that in 1830 it was discovered in Belgium by a farmer named Jan Lammers. Farmer Jan was storing chicory roots in his cellar that he planned to dry and grind as a substitute for coffee beans (as this was common practice in Europe during the 19th century). Jan forgot about a few of the roots and, interestingly enough, the roots sprouted in the damp, dark shed and sprouted leaves. Naturally, as anyone would upon discovering something growing in their damp, dark shed – Jan took a bite of one and found the tangy and slightly bitter flavour pleasant and the modern cultivation of Belgian endive was born.
When looking for Belgian endive, your local farmers market or grocery store will usually group endive with other leafy greens such as lettuce, escarole and radicchio. In fact, endives have been blended with radicchio to produce a red endive that has reddish leaves , allowing for a number of presentation options for any food recipe.
Don’t think that endive is just about looks and a tangy little flavourful treat. Endive isn’t just about looks. Belgian endive is also rich in vitamins and minerals, especially folate, vitamins A and K, and is also high in fiber.
Click here to discover the many ways to include BC Belgian Endive into your favourite food recipes.
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