What Is Endive And What Does It Taste Like?

You know romaine, kale, and maybe even Swiss chard. But one member of the greens family you may be less familiar with is endive, or Belgian endive if you want to be formal about it. Christened by Bon Appetit as "a chip and a salad green" at the same time, endive is a crisp, pale member of the chicory family — a group of greens that also includes escarole, radicchio, and frisée (via The Spruce Eats).

According to The Spruce Eats, Belgian endives get their pale color from being grown indoors, in the dark. This unique way of growing means endive is technically always in season! When not grown indoors, The Spruce Eats notes, they're traditionally grown in winter and covered in sand to keep the light from reaching it.

Chicories are known for being more on the bitter side of the flavor spectrum, and endive is no different. However, those intimidated by harsh flavors needn't fret, as Bon Appetit explains endive has an "extremely mild bitterness" compared to its more intense chicory siblings.

Ways to cook and eat endive

Like other crisp, delicate greens out there, one of the most popular uses for endive is in salads. Bon Appetit notes that because it doesn't have an assertive flavor, endive works in salads alongside bold flavors like cheese, garlic, and even anchovies. The New York Times recommends pairing endive with blue cheese dressing, while Epicurious suggests crunchy apples, walnuts, and apple cider vinegar.

Bon Appetit described endive as a "chip" for a reason. Endive's crisp leaves do resemble a vessel for dip — Martha Stewart pairs them with a complex green goddess dip, and Southern Living fills the leaves with a tangy herbed goat cheese.

Endive takes on a whole new flavor and texture when cooked. They become soft and tender when braised in white wine, per The Spruce Eats, or smoky and charred when seared over high heat (via Food & Wine).

Can't decide how to use your endive? One of the benefits endive has for home cooks is its long shelf life. Once it's nestled safely in the crisper drawer, it will last for anywhere from 14 to 28 days (via University of California, Davis). With long-lasting endive on your side, any day can have a bit more crunch.