They are pretty, even though I don't know what to do with them.They are pretty, even though I don't know what to do with them.
Chicons!Chicons!
Sticking them in their fancy bucketSticking them in their fancy bucket
Pulling up the roots in the fallPulling up the roots in the fall
And floweringAnd flowering
Belgian endive growing in summerBelgian endive growing in summer
Basement-grown Belgian endive in DecemberBasement-grown Belgian endive in December
  • They are pretty, even though I don't know what to do with them.
  • Chicons!
  • Sticking them in their fancy bucket
  • Pulling up the roots in the fall
  • And flowering
  • Belgian endive growing in summer
  • Basement-grown Belgian endive in December

Belgian endive is definitely the weirdest thing I’ve ever grown.

If you’re not familiar with the process, this is a really good summary. Basically, you plant the seeds, grow the greens (but don’t eat them), pull up the roots in the fall, stuff them in a bucket with soggy sand or soil, put a black garbage bag over the whole thing and wait. Eventually the little chicons will pop their heads up (in the DARK!!!), and voila, gourmet vegetable. Weird, weird, weird.

We grew the greens/roots in the garden this past season, and now we have a 5 gallon bucket in our basement that chicons are growing out of. (Not chickens. That would be even weirder.) Overall I consider it a success, but I’m still trying to figure out what to do with them.

I’ve tried a few recipes for Belgian endive. One was so incredibly bitter even I couldn’t force myself to finish the dish (after all that work!). In the last dish I tried, I was more careful to cut off the lower portions of the stems to help prevent bitterness. I julienned the leaves and added them to pasta with a lemon and nutmeg cream sauce, and it was lovely. I’m not sure I could really taste the endive, though, so I’m not sure I’m really getting the gourmet experience I should be getting.

Does anyone have recommendations for growing or preparing Belgian endive?

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