The Belgian endive belongs to the Asteraceae family, and despite its name denotes a Northern European origin, it is now also cultivated in Italy and it is possible to bring it to the table, consuming it raw, as a simple salad or cooked, better if crispy sautéed in a pan. Belgian endive is a vegetable with multiple beneficial properties and as traditional Chinese medicine suggests, its regular consumption is an excellent natural remedy for various problems related to internal organs and helps the body to detoxify.
Belgian endive: origins of the name and cultivation
Vegetable of well-being, It shows up elongated in nature, with the fleshy and thin leaves enclosed in a delicate tapered head. The typical color of the endive ranges from the bright white of the heart to the green of the tips, with that slightly bitter taste which makes it different from other vegetables, whose aftertaste is very similar to radicchio or endive.
Originally from Belgium, as the name suggests, it is now cultivated in many areas of the planet and, in particular in Italy, it prefers crops close to the basin of the Mediterranean, thanks to the cool and mild climate and the proximity to the sea which facilitates and strengthens the growth of plants. The Belgian endive is known to the gastronomic public also with the name of “chicory from Brussels“, And takes the name of this city where, in the nineteenth century, its discovery occurred in a completely random way.
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The tradition handed down from voice to voice, has it that it was thanks to a farmer who, out of distraction, left some endive roots in a cold cellar and, despite the low temperatures, they began to sprout with new leaves snow white in color. Studied and perfected by a local botanist, it was soon cultivated and commercialized, still finding it today as we bring it to our tables.
Perfect to eat raw, dressed like a simple salad, it can also be consumed cooked, quickly sautéed in a pan in order not to lose its important nutrients.
Belgian endive: properties and benefits
Perfect to consume in the winter months given its maximum harvest, Belgian endive can still be found on the fruit and vegetable stand all year round. Precious vegetable, rich in water, up to contain about 90%, makes this food an excellent ally for correct diuresis.
Thanks to its very few calories, it contains just 15 per 100 grams, it is ideal for those who follow a slimming diet or a restrictive diet imposed later and problems of a different nature. It’s a’important source of fiber, as well as enclosing in its leaves a high content of phosphorus, calcium, iron and potassium. Rich in vitamins of different types, Belgian endive is a valuable source of vitamin A, many of the vitamins in the group B and a good level of vitamin C..
Its consumption is recommended for those suffering from constipation, given the high content of water and fiber and also for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, as well as overt states of meteorism. The main benefits contained in the leaves of endive, contribute to relieve intestinal irritation of various kinds and origins. Very rich in folic acid, its consumption is advisable during pregnancy, in addition to bringing significant benefits to the cardiovascular system.
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Precious source of antioxidants, it finally has an important action e targeted against cellular aging and through the presence of inulin, which can be translated as soluble fiber, naturally present in the leaves, favors not only digestion, improves diuresis and helps regulate intestinal transit.
Belgian endive at the table
To be consumed as a simple and tasty salad, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and salt or sautéed or steamed, the Belgian endive turns out to be the perfect side dish for a healthy and wholesome meal in the name of wellbeing. Despite its original, long and tapered shape, its cleaning is easy and simple. Its very compact leaves favor a very effective cleaning avoiding breaking.
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With the help of a sharp knife just cut the lower part to eliminate the central core. Begin to remove the outer leaves, remove them gently. Wash them carefully under cold running water avoiding breaking them.
You can eat it raw as a salad, and it is perfect not only as a side dish, but also as a delicious appetizer. To salad, combined with fresh fennel and carrots, well goes well with onions and seeds of different types. If you like a more important side dish, you can sauté it in a pan or even better tasted at griglia paired with other vegetables to accompany a rich second course of meat or fish.