Crisp and unique with a slightly bitter taste, endive (pronounced “on-deev“) has been cultivated for medicinal purposes since the ancients documented its use 5000 years ago. A member of the chicory family, it is referenced in the infamous Ebers Papyrus (1550, BCE), and praised in the writings of Horace, Ovid, Virgil, Galenus and Pliny. It was rediscovered in the mid-to-late nineteenth century in Belgium, and has since traveled to France (where it is referred to fondly as “White Gold”, and North America.
Naturally crisp and slightly bitter taste, endive continues to delight the palates of millions of people the world-over. Endive can be boiled, braised, put in coffee or served fresh in salads. Among typical salad greenery, it is the richest source of vitamin A. As a result, endive is an excellent source of beta-carotene (an important antioxidant that boosts your immune system). Regular consumption of endive can lower your risk of heart disease and cancers of the rectum, bladder and melanoma. Because of the complex fibers cellulose and hemicellulose, endive can help regulate your digestive tract and prevent the absorption of cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels. It is also a significant source of vitamin C, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and fiber. It is also bursting with magnesium, zinc, Vitamin B and folate.
By pairing endive with other juices, you can actually prevent and even reverse many illnesses and other, less serious malodies, such as acne. By mixing endive juice with celery and carrots, asthmatics can significantly reduce their susceptibility for asthma attacks. Anemia can be tempered by mixing endive with celery and parsley. It’s helpful in weight loss and can also be an effective cleanser for the liver and gall bladder.
Perhaps the most interesting benefit to eating or drinking endive, however, lies in its striking positive effect on the optic system. Degenerating eye problems, such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, can be a nightmare. They lead to expensive surgeries and can often be recurring. By drinking endive juice or eating fresh endive regularly with carrots, celery, parsley and spinach, you can improve and in some cases evenreverse the condition without invasive surgery.
Endive provides a whimsical, curly flair to any salad. Its delightfully crisp texture and slightly bitter taste pair well with other mixed greens and vegetables, making it not only nutritious, but delicious. The following recipe for a “White Gold” salad is chock-full of vitamins and flavor. The recipe serves 6.
4 heads red endive
4 heads white endive
1 large bunch arugula, ends trimmed
2 medium seedless oranges
2 teaspoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
½ teaspoon grated orange zest
½ tablespoon champagne vinegar
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup walnut halves, toasted
Trim ½-inch from the stem and end of the endive and remove the outer leaves. When no more leaves can be removed, trim another ½-inch from the stem and continue to remove all the leaves. Place endive in a large salad bowl with the arugula. Cover with a damp towel and refrigerate. Using a sharp knife, cut the tops and bottoms of the oranges. Cut off all of the white pith so that none remains. Cut the oranges crosswise into ¼-inch thick slices. Cut the slices in half. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the walnut oil, olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, champagne vinegar, and salt and pepper/ To serve, toss the endive, arugula, orange sections, and toasted walnuts with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
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