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All about “Chicory and Endive”

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Nutritional value of chicory

  Endive (witloof or Brussels chicory) raw, 125 ml (½ cup) / 48 g Curly chicory and raw escarole, 125 ml (½ cup) / 25 g Common chicory, raw, 125 ml (½ cup) / 15 g
Calories 8 5 4
Protein 0.4 g 0.3 g 0.3 g
Carbohydrates 1.9g 0.9 g 0.7 g
Fat 0.1g 0.1g 0.1g
Dietary fiber 1.5g 0.8g 0.6g
Glycemic load  : No data available
Antioxidant power  : Good, but exact data not available

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2010.

Recipe ideas


Wash chicory only when ready. It is possible to reduce the bitterness of the leaves by soaking them for ten minutes in cold water before preparing them.

All chicory can be served as a salad with a warm vinaigrette that is poured over the leaves to tenderize them. Serve with bread croutons rubbed with garlic.

Chicory is incorporated into countless salads

Chicory, watercress, endive and pear salad
  • Potato salad.
  • Wild rice salad, with almonds and dried fruit.
  • Avocado, grapefruit and almond salad. Or avocado, romaine lettuce, orange, almonds and chicken. Spicy lovers will add jalapeno pepper.
  • Spinach, pear, gorgonzola and pecan salad.
with chicory
  • Romaine lettuce salad with yogurt, buttermilk, mayonnaise and blue cheese sauce.
  • Salad with curly chicory, pears and hazelnuts.
  • Radicchio, Roquefort and Walnut Salad.
  • Salad with curly chicory, grated carrots and cabbage, sliced ​​green onions, slivered almonds, coriander leaves. Drizzle with sesame oil vinaigrette, soy sauce and rice vinegar.
  • Green salad (curly, arugula, watercress) with orange supremes, green onions and finely sliced ​​radishes. Season with a vinaigrette made up of olive oil, lemon, orange peel and thyme.
  • Fennel bulb salad, celery ribs, cabbage and escarole. Cut them into quarters and soak separately for 12 hours in cold water with lemon juice. Drain, chop, season with a vinaigrette and, if desired, serve with slices of prosciutto.
  • The puntarelle is a typical salad from the Rome area. It is made from the leaves of the heart of chicory. It is traditionally served with a sauce made of crushed garlic and anchovies, to which a good wine vinegar is added.

Varied recipes with endive, radicchio, treviso…

  • Dips and entrees. Endive leaves are particularly suitable for dips . Like long edible spoons, they can also be garnished with fish mousse, battered and seasoned cheese, eggplant caviar, tzatziki and, why not, a cold fruit or berry compote topped with cottage cheese, yogurt or whipped cream.
  • Braised . Brown radicchios or endives in butter. Season them, then cover them with chicken or vegetable broth. Cook covered over very low heat for 30 to 45 minutes. If desired, add Parmesan cheese at the end of cooking and brown for a few minutes. Or, sauté whole endives in butter or olive oil. Then, cook them over low heat, covered (about 25 minutes) after sprinkling them with a little lemon juice and seasoning with salt and a spoonful of sugar, honey or maple syrup.
  • Endive cream . Slice the endives and brown them in a little butter or olive oil with chopped garlic and onion. Add diced potatoes and chicken or vegetable broth. Cook until the potatoes are tender. Go to the blender, add milk, salt and pepper. Serve the hot or cold cream, garnished with chopped chives, dill and a few chopped endive leaves.
  • Quiche . Chop endives and onion and add them to a quiche with grated cheese, a little cream and nutmeg.

  • Barbecue . Endives and Treviso are particularly suitable for cooking on the barbecue or under the grill. Slice them lengthwise, coat with oil, salt, pepper and cook for a few minutes, turning once during cooking.
  • Stew . Mix chicory and black beans which will have soaked and cooked for 1 hour. Add celery, garlic, chili powder and a little olive oil and cook for 1 hour more. Garnish with a spoonful of sour cream and a spoonful of salsa.
  • Chicory stuffed. Whiten the radicchio or escarole leaves for 1 or 2 minutes to soften them. Coat the center of the leaves with a marinade based on oil, balsamic vinegar and mustard. Place a piece of goat cheese, close as if to make a package and grill or bake until the cheese has melted. Let cool, serve on slices of tomatoes of various colors and season with the rest of the marinade, thyme and chives. You can also wrap scallops in chicory leaves and cook them on the grill.
  • With pasta. Saute minced chicory leaves with chopped onion and prosciutto. Add red wine, let it evaporate, add tomatoes and, at the last minute, a little cream and lemon juice. Serve on pappardelle or fettuccine.
  • In the risotto . Slice the radicchio or endive. Fry with onion in oil and butter, add the rice and cook, gradually adding broth until the rice is cooked al dente . Garnish with a knob of butter and grated Parmesan cheese. Mix well, turn off the heat and let stand for a few minutes before serving. You can also add, during cooking, the juice and the grated rind of half a lemon.
  • Home Made Ravioli. They are stuffed, Italian style, with a mixture of lobster meat and grilled radicchio, seasoned with lemon juice, a little white wine, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes in salted boiling water and serve with a simple sauce made from minced radicchio, buttered in butter.
  • Stuffed chicken or duck breasts. The boneless breasts are garnished with minced radicchio, to which the gizzard and diced ham have been added. They are then rolled, retained by toothpicks and placed in the oven.
  • White bean and escarole soup.In Italy, we prefer cannellini, but white beans from North America will do the trick. Soak them overnight. After having drained them, add garlic, bay leaf, sage, pepper, a few tablespoons of olive oil and, if desired, a hot pepper. First sear them for half an hour in the intense heat of an oven set at 230 ° C (450 ° F), then cook them on low heat (105 ° C – 220 ° F) for 1 ½ hour to 2 hours. Chop the escarole and melt it in a little olive oil, with salt, pepper and oregano. Add the beans after removing the hot pepper and herbs, and mash them with a potato masher, pouring in as much cooking liquid as necessary to obtain a creamy texture. Return to the heat and cook for about ten minutes.

Choice and conservation

To choose

Whatever the type of chicory , choose very firm leaves whose tips are free of browning. The apples should be firm and heavy for their size. Preferably choose them relatively large (more than 225 g). If they are small, it is because they have been harvested for a longer time and their outer leaves have been gradually removed, which were damaged during storage.

The endive leaves must be tightly closed and the tips yellow in color . If they are green , it is because they have been exposed to light, and they will be more bitter .

Endives, radicchio and escarole are found practically year-round in grocery stores. Curly is rarer and some types, such as the puntarelle , are only found in winter (from November to February), especially in specialty shops.


Refrigerator . One week in a perforated bag in the refrigerator drawer. The radicchio and the endive keep a little longer than the escarole and the curly.

The little story of chicory

Common names: chicory, endive, escarole, treviso, radicchio .
Scientific names: Cichorium intybus, Cichorium endivia .
Family: asteraceae (synonym: compound).

The various varieties

The term ”  chicory  ” was first written in the form of cikore. It appeared in the XIII th  century and comes from the Latin medieval cicorea who borrowed from classical Latin cichoreum , itself derived from the Greek kikhorion .

First written as “indivie”, the term ”  endive  ” appeared in French in the early XIV th  century. The word is probably borrowed from the Latin intibum , which took it from the Greek entubion , whose meaning is “wild chicory”. In its first sense, it designates the curly and the escarole, and in its second meaning – the one that is generally used in Quebec – the white shoot of chicory witloof , which can cause some confusion.

The term ”  escarole  ” which appeared in the XIV th  century, comes from the Italian scariola who borrowed from Low Latin escariola . In French, we sometimes wrote “escarole”. The word designates chicory with broad, slightly toothed leaves .

Italian equivalent of “chicory”, the word ”  radicchio  “ has, in this language, a very broad meaning, while in America, it indicates only the red chicories with round apples . Under the influence of the Americans who borrowed it from Italian immigrants, it tends to impose itself everywhere in America. In France, we speak rather of “red-leaf chicory”.

The term ”  treviso  “, which appeared only very recently in the French language (1984), designates red chicories with elongated heads . The word is borrowed from a city in Italy where this type would have been selected.

From chicory to “coffee”: multiple uses

Chicory is native to Europe, central Russia and western Asia. The Egyptians and Greeks knew it, as did the Indians, who used its root for its medicinal properties . In Rome, the root and the leaves were eaten, of which the geese were also fed. In his Natural History , written in the first century AD, Pliny the Elder happily describes the white and red leaves of the radicchio.

The forcing of chicory to produce endive (chicory witloof or Brussels), is known at least since the XIV th  century. This practice consists in cultivating, away from light, already established roots. This has the effect of reducing the bitterness of the leaves and making them less fibrous. In the XVI th  century, this technique was applied to many varieties of chicory, both Italy and France. In 1830, the Belgians perfected it and obtained white chicoryin the shape of a cigar which is widespread all over the Western world today. Before the discovery of forcing methods, only young leaves, less bitter, were eaten in salads. The rest of the plant (large leaves, roots) was intended for medicinal uses and for farm animals.

The use of chicory root as a coffee substitute dates from the middle of the XVIII th  century. This is especially prevalent in the early nineteenth th  century, with the continental blockade imposed by Napoleon, which deprived Europe of his favorite beverage. It was around the same time that the plant ( C. intybus ) would have been introduced in America. As in the majority of temperate countries, it has naturalized and has become a weed that we can no longer get rid of.

In the 1660s, a certain Pierre Boucher drew up an inventory of a Canadian garden . Chicory is one of the “herbs” cultivated there, alongside sorrel, leek, onion, garlic, hyssop, borage, etc., but without the we learn more about its uses. In 1749, in his description of a garden in Quebec City, the botanist Peter Kalm also mentions it.

The Italians, in particular, have an almost religious respect for the plant. Many varieties are available in their stores, in cut leaves, in apple, or with leaves and stems. One finds there the tiny grumolos of an extreme rusticity, which spend the winter in the ground to form in spring a splendid rosette. The gigantic Catalan puntarelle , whose leaves resemble those of the dandelion, is very popular. And the elegant castelfranco (also called “edible flower”) has creamy white leaves delicately marked with red spots, the shape of which recalls that of a rose.

Organic gardening

Very tolerant of variations in pH, chicory still gives its best performance at a pH of 6.5 or more. It requires fertile, well-drained soil with good water retention capacity.

As the majority of chicory varieties prefer cool climates (from 27 ° C, the plant may go to seed), they will be grown in spring or autumn. There are a few heat-resistant varieties that are best chosen for the months of July and August.

In general, chicory does not transplant well. However, for the first harvests, you can still sow plants indoors 6 weeks (around March 15 in southern Quebec) before transplanting them to the garden. Thereafter, we will stick to direct seeding.

Distance between plants: 25 cm to 30 cm. Distance between rows: 35 cm to 45 cm.

Sow at regular intervals throughout the season.

As with lettuce and unlike most vegetables, it is best to water chicory often, but only on the surface.

Fertilize with good manure, buried the previous fall, or compost.

Insects: at the end of the season, aphids are to be feared, in particular because they are vectors of the mosaic virus , against which nothing can be done. Treat with insecticidal soap as soon as they appear. The slugs can also cause problems. Limit their proliferation by putting diatomaceous earth, pieces of eggshell or containers filled with beer at the foot of the plants. Garlic extract has also been shown to be effective against this gastropod … as well as hens and ducks, who love it.

Diseases: burns on the edge of the leaves and root rot can be minimized by ensuring that air circulates well between the plants and by watering frequently, but only superficially.

Harvest when the plants are rather a little young than too old. They are then less bitter and more tender. To extend the harvest period, cover the plants with a geotextile cloth when it is cold.

Practice a 4-year rotation to reduce the risk of disease.

rumolos  : sow these varieties with small green or red rosettes in the fall to harvest them early the following spring.

Forcing chicory to make chicory

The chicories to be forced (from Cichorium intybus ) are first cultivated in the open ground during the summer season, following the advice given above. Sow the seeds between 15 May and 1 st  July (Quebec) in soil not too rich in nitrogen, to avoid this element leads to the development of the foliage at the expense of the root. At maturity, the plants are dug up, the leaves cut about 2.5 cm above the crown and the pruned roots at 20 cm. They will then be put for at least 2 weeks in the coldest corner of the refrigerator , in a container filled with sand or wet peat moss.

Then, they are transplanted into earth or wet sand in a dark place where the temperatures are from 13 ° C to 21 ° C. The leaves are covered from 17 cm to 20 cm in sand or dry earth. After a few weeks, we can harvest our first endives. As the plants are not fattened – contrary to what is done for commercial forcing – one can hardly expect more than two harvests per root, after which they have exhausted all their reserves. We can stagger the production, forcing only the quantity we need for 1 or 2 weeks. Meanwhile, just keep the other roots in the refrigerator until they are forced.

Ecology and environment

With a long root capable of pumping minerals from the ground to a great depth, chicory is an excellent food for livestock . Adaptable to various types of soils and climates, it makes it possible to enhance pastures by increasing the available biomass. In addition, still thanks to the length of its root, it introduces, at the time of its decomposition, organic matter in depth, which has the effect of improving its structure and fertility.

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