February 26, 2015

No Longer In The Dark — An Ode To Endive

growing endive

Endive Ready for Harvest

Among the vast cornucopia of crops grown by farmers, there isn’t another quite like the Belgian endive (pronounced on-deev). Known as one of the most difficult vegetables to grow, Belgian endives are a very special long season crop that requires a winter, indoor “forcing” phase to produce the tightly-wrapped, almond-shaped, cream colored heads that you find in your Farm Fresh To You box.

endive - taproot

Chicory Root (photo provided by California Endive)

While the first growth phase takes about 150 days in the field, where the chicory grows from seed into a leafy green plant with a deep tap root, we had the privilege to view the later and more mysterious part of the second-growth process.

rich collins

Rich Collins Holds Up a Frozen Chicory Root from Cold Storage 

At harvest, tops of the leafy chicory plant are cut-off; the roots dug up and then placed in cold storage where they will enter a dormancy period. As demand necessitates, roots are removed from cold storage for their second growth, which takes 28 days in dark, cool, humid forcing rooms, similar to a mushroom growing facility. After that, you are left with a delectable harvest of Belgian endive, which are then packed into environmentally friendly Bagasse trays (a fiber made from sugarcane).

endive growing in the dark

Shining Some Light On Endives In Their Second Growing Phase Before Harvest

If you haven’t tried one of these vegetable divas, I highly recommend that you do. The taste is unmistakable; it is naturally slightly bitter with a nutty finish. It is delicious raw or in salads, but also makes an excellent cooked vegetable that can be baked, roasted or braised.

roasted belgian endive

Our friends at California Endive are a great source for yummy endive recipes, but we suggest you try this scrumptious recipe for roasting endive that we think you will love.

Roasted Belgian Endive

• 4-5 heads of Belgian endive
• 3 tablespoons of butter
• juice and zest of one orange
• 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
• 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
• a pinch of salt
• 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped parsley
• freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cut endives in half, discard outer leaves. Melt butter in a large skillet, add endives and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Carefully turn endives over and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Combine balsamic vinegar with maple syrup and orange juice, add salt. Arrange endives in a buttered baking dish. Pour over the sauce. Top with orange zest and fresh parsley.

Bake at 400F for about 30 minutes - until endives have softened. Serve and enjoy!

We hope this inspires you to try something new with your next delivery of endive – trust us, you will discover a whole new and delicious flavor profile.

Click here for a printer friendly version of this recipe.

How To Add Endive, Oranges, Balsamic Vinegar and Maple Syrup to Your Delivery:
CSA members - head on over to our online Farm Stand Market to customize your upcoming delivery. Market is open from noon on Thursday until 10 am, 2 days before your scheduled delivery day. After you confirm your produce items, click the orange button "Confirm and Continue To Other Farm Products" to add the products to your delivery.

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