The Greens Mystery Solved

This summer, my husband brought home a surprise for me.   Not a bouquet of flowers, but some brown wilted plants in moist paper towels.  He knows I prefer plants over cut flowers.   The plants were starter greens from his co-worker.   I planted them in our salad table.  I assumed the plants were romaine and green leaf lettuce because one had smooth broad leaves and the other had curly thin leaves.   When the plants reached mound size, I questioned their identity.  The leaves felt tough and tasted bitter.   My husband told me it was endive.   A quick search through gardening books and the internet solved my greens mystery.   It was escarole and curly endive, something I never grew or cooked before.

Highlights of what I learned about endive:  1.  Curly endive has the frilly leaves and Batavian endive or escarole has broad leaves.  2.  Endive can grow in winter and is less bitter when grown in cooler weather.  3. Blanching endive can reduce bitterness. Curly endive is blanched by covering it with a porous pot.  Escarole  is blanched by wrapping it with string so the outer leaves will block light from inner leaves.  4.   Endive is  used in a lot in Italian cooking including soups and saute.  5.  Endive is high in vitamin A,B,C and contains Calcium and Iron .

I wrapped my escarole plants with string to blanch the inner leaves hoping they will be less bitter.  I plan to make Escarole Bean Soup and Curly Endive and Bean Soup with my hearty mystery greens.    Do you have any mysteries growing in your garden?

One thought on “The Greens Mystery Solved

  1. Great! At last I have found someone else who appreciates Endives. Not many people I know have even heard of them, and what a treat they are missing. Recently I published a couple of posts on my blog about Endives — particularly about blanching them. Maybe you would care to compare notes? I am particularly interested to know how people elsewhere eat Endives. If you like these, you should try some varieties of Chicory — they are lovely to eat and wonderfully decorative too.

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