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Ingredients

A Dive into Belgian Endive

Where it comes from; what it tastes like; and how to buy, store, and prep it.
By Published Nov. 4, 2022

Belgian endive is easy to overlook among the more vibrant greens in the produce section, but it’s a green worth getting to know.

What Is Belgian Endive? 

Belgian endive is part of the chicory family, which includes curly endive, frisée (a younger version of curly endive), escarole, and radicchio. It is bullet-shaped and cream-colored, with pale yellow tips, and can also be referred to as endive, Belgian chicory, or witloof.

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What Does Belgian Endive Taste Like?

Belgian endive is often described as pleasantly bitter (more bitter than lettuce) and mildly nutty. The texture of Belgian endive is tender, velvety, watery or juicy, luxurious, and somewhat crisp, with a soft crunch and slight creaminess. 

Fun fact: The chicory you see roasted and ground to make a coffee substitute or mixed into preground coffee is made from the taproot of the Belgian endive.

How to Shop for Belgian Endive

When shopping for Belgian endive, seek out a tight bulb with cream-colored leaves and pale yellow tips. The leaves should be velvety and smooth; do not purchase if the creamy leaves are starting to get slimy and brown or have visible soft spots.

How to Store Belgian Endive

Belgian endive is very delicate; to store it, wrap it in a damp paper towel and place it in a zipper-lock bag or airtight container. Note that the cut surfaces of the endive can discolor quickly, so it’s best to either wait until the last minute before prepping it or soak it in lemon water if you’re cutting it in advance.

How to Prepare Belgian Endive

To prepare Belgian endive, simply trim off the bottom end, and separate the individual leaves from around the bulb (only removing the leaves that come off easily). Trim the bottom again, and separate another round of leaves, repeating until you get to the core. From here, you can use the leaves whole as an edible spoon for dipping or incorporate them into a salad, such as our Endive Salad with Oranges and Blue Cheese. If you don’t like whole leaves in your salad, you can cut them crosswise into bite-size pieces or lengthwise into long thin strips. (If the outer leaves of the endive begin to brown once you’ve brought it home, simply tear off and discard them.) 

Prepping endives

Trim off the bottom end, and separate the individual leaves from around the bulb.

Prepping endives

Trim the bottom again, and separate another round of leaves, repeating until you get to the core.