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Crop of the Week: Endive
• Endive, a perennial herbaceous leafy plant, belongs to the Asteraceae (daisy) family of the genus Cichorium and is closely related to chicory, radicchio and Belgian endive (witloof). Its scientific name: Cichorium endivia.
• As part of their production of mixed greens for salad mixes, Yuma County farmers grew a little over 500 acres of endive in 2010 valued at $1.2 million.
• There are three main varieties of endive: frisée, curly endive and escarole. Curly endive, sometimes mistakenly called chicory, has green, rimmed, curly outer leaves. Frisée has finely cut, frizzy leaves. Escarole has broad, pale green leaves and is less bitter than the other varieties.
• Endive is a green leafy vegetable with a hint of bitter flavor. As the outer leaves are removed, the inner leaves display a paler green coloring with a more tasteless, bitter flavor than the outer leaves.
• This well-known salad plant comes packed with numerous nutrients, especially folate, vitamin C and A and fiber.
• Endive heads should be clean, free of browning, crisp and bright green. Endive resembles dandelion leaves. Young, tender leaves are preferred over older, tougher leaves.
• Endive placed in plastic bags will store in refrigeration for about 10 days.
• Escarole is popular as a salad green, eaten raw with mayonnaise or a vinaigrette dressing. When cooked, the greens are often served as a vegetable steamed or braised, and can be added to soups for flavoring in the later stages of soup making.
Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 726-3904.