The prickly vegetable that grows in the dark.

When ordering salads in upscale restaurants, sometimes the lettuce looks mangled. This thin, pale, and ragged lettuce is actually a premium green that is quite challenging to grow. Unlike most vegetables, endives grow in dark, cool, and humid places. The end result is a delicious, bitter, and mildly spicy lettuce that is often called “frisée” or “blanched curly white endive”. If endives grow in sunlight, they resemble miniature Romaine hearts with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and are typically called “endive spears”. Even though most varieties grow in the dark, endives are still nutrient dense in vitamin K and A. Considering how strange this member of the compositae family is, its preparation in meals is surprisingly simple. All types of endives can be eaten raw in salads. Endive spears can be used to serve other food, similar to peanut butter on celery sticks. Add one heaping teaspoon of your favorite tuna fish, smoked salmon, or quinoa salad onto an endive spear as a delightful finger food appetizer.


Purchase curly endive and endive spears that are bright, fresh, and unwilted. Select frisée that is pale green and crisp and preferably sold on ice. Store all types of endives in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days.