In Appreciation of… Belgian Endive

March 5, 2021

In Appreciation of… Belgian Endive


Did you know that Belgian endive grows in the dark?

Image from

I didn’t, until today when I preparing this post.

Here’s the story: a Belgian farmer stored his chicory roots in the cellar as he headed off to the war for Belgium’s independence from The Netherlands in 1830, and when he returned (apparently unharmed from the very short war) they had a surprise for him: the roots had grown into little bulbs with new albino leaves. Voila, a new and wonderful type of vegetable was born, a crunchy, slightly bitter, nutty head of golden-white leaves that are rich in vitamins and minerals and can be eaten raw or cooked.

I really like Belgian endive, and I appreciate that Belgian farmer, whose name was Jan Lammers. I wonder why the vitamin-laden endive variant wasn’t named after him, and how the rest of the world found out about it.

That’s why I’m writing about Belgian endive today. In its raw form, with its clean, crisp flavor and boat-like shape, this little finger-sized leaf is a perfect delivery device for richer foods. That’s how I like to use it; I’ve actually never cooked Belgian endive.

Here are a few examples from the Glover Gardens table, some from the blog archives, and a couple more recent dishes that haven’t made it onto these pages yet.

Belgian endive looking ever-so-tasty with leftover grilled shrimp on a dollop of guacamole, garnished with cilantro and red onion
A beautiful dish for spring: deviled eggs alongside Belgian endive filled with a Greek-inspired tuna salad
The first time I blogged about Belgian endive
I like to serve Belgian endive in addition to crackers for dips like this one
Belgian endive transform leftover holiday dressing (see post for picture)

Thank you, Jan Lammers. I’m glad you returned from war unharmed to make your important discovery, and I think I will name a dish with Belgian endive after you.

© 2021, Glover Gardens

6 thoughts on “In Appreciation of… Belgian Endive”

    • LOL, then you must really hate Belgian endive. And as a true beet-hater, I have to recognize that at least they have a use as a natural dye. Belgian endive, not so much. I’ve never had borscht, though, and would be willing to try it. Once.

      • There’s no point to endive. You proved that by covering it up with all kinds of other food. You might as well use celery or a lettuce leaf. If you are going to try Borscht make sure it’s Russian with lot’s of meat and other veggies. The kiddos like beets with butter, salt and black pepper.

    • Thank you! It was actually my first time to make them, and I really liked them. I did it a pretty traditional way with just a bit of light mayo, white pepper and salt, but my ‘secret’ ingredients were ground celery seed and a bit of horseradish sauce. I had heard chef Carla Hall on an NPR weekend show describing how she cuts her eggs crossways and takes a tiny bit off of the ends so they’ll stand upright. I think they’re cuter and more bite-sized that way.

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