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What is Curly Endive?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 March 2014
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Curly endive, also sometimes called frisee or chicory, is a bitter dark leafy green used in salads and other dishes. Like other endives, the curly one has a characteristically sharp, bitter flavor which greatly enhances the flavor of green salads, although some consumers find it distasteful.

The outer leaves of curly endive are dark green and lacy, enclosing a tightly furled pale heart of leaves. The darker the leaf, the more bitter it tends to be, which is why some cooks prefer to use the more pale inner leaves. The characteristic lacy, ruffled greens also add interesting visual contrast to salads, as well as a fair amount of nutrition. This green is high in folate, fiber, and vitamins A and K, making it a great addition to any diet, especially for pregnant women.

Most people use curly endive raw in salads, typically in small amounts so that the bitter flavor does not become overwhelming. The green can also be briefly wilted and served warm. As a general rule, it does not do well with prolonged cooking, so if it is added to a dish such as soup, it is thrown in at the end. Plan on using curly endive within five days, since it will start to go bad after that.

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To pick out curly endive in the store, look for a tightly furled, crisp specimen which has a fresh look about it. Avoid those with spots of slime or extreme discoloration, which indicate that the greens were not handled well. Since May to November is the season for this salad green, regard this green at other times of the year with suspicion, since it may not be of very high quality. Once purchased, keep the greens tightly wrapped in the vegetable crisper.

To grow curly endive at home, plant out seedlings or seeds after the last frost. Some gardeners like to make a mixed bed of salad greens, harvesting and replenishing as needed. In temperate climates, salad greens can be kept growing for six or more months out of the year, bringing a fresh, clean flavor to green salads. For classic white endive, blanch almost matured heads by covering them for three to five days, but make sure to keep the leaves dry so that they do not experience rot.

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Discuss this Article

serenesurface
Post 4

@simrin-- I also mainly make salads with it. You should try it in salads with seafood, like salmon and mussels. It's so good! You can also garnish appetizers with it. It's pretty good with crackers and flavored cream cheeses. Another option is to add it as a last ingredient to soups or stews as was mentioned.

I think my sister once added it to quiche, and it was cooked in the oven. But she didn't put much, like a spring or two. It turned out delicious though. It was a chicken and cheese quiche, so there were many other flavors to mask the bitterness of the endive.

Why don't you just try it out in recipes you already love? Whenever I have an ingredient at home that I need to finish before it goes bad, I use my imagination instead of looking up recipes. I'm sure endive can be eaten in other ways.

discographer
Post 3

I completely agree with the article. Curly endive is a very healthy and nutritious green. I especially recommend this green to athletes and those with vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It might not taste that great, but you can easily add a leaf or two into sandwiches and salads without even noticing.

The best part about curly endive is that like other greens, it's rich in water. So it's a great way to get more water into the system, for those of us who don't drink enough water. It's also rich in potassium, vitamin A, folate, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, as the article also mentioned.

And for the freshest, most natural product, I recommend growing endive at home. I grow some in my backyard, along the wall. It grows easily, without much effort along with my other greens. In addition to curly endive, I have lettuce, mint, parsley, basil and curly kale. I make the freshest, most delicious salads with them!

SteamLouis
Post 2

Curly endive is bitter, but I like that! Some people will find this weird but I actually crave it sometimes! I can have a whole bowl of fresh curly endive as long as it's dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

I enjoy that it's a lot more crunchy and crispy than lettuce. Adding curly endive to a lettuce salad is definitely a great way to add more texture to a bland experience. Although I do avoid the bottom white part of the leaves. The white part is too bitter even for me.

I think curly endive is also a great addition to salads that have a fatty ingredient in them. Like a potato salad with mayonnaise, or an avocado salad with other greens, garlic and tomatoes. I feel like the bitterness of the curly endive tames down the heavy flavors that come with these foods.

Anyone know any curly endive recipes other than salad? I would love to experiment more with this green. I understand it can't really be cooked with, but there must be some other options right?

bananas
Post 1

Curly leaved varieties come as green curled also known as Moss Curled. Sally is another variety with tight hearts.

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