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Endive

The "endive" is often confused with the escarole, a plant belonging to the family Astaraceae. Its scientific name is Cichorium endive and originally came from the eastern areas of the Mediterranean basin.

Origins and history

The endivia mainly grew in the Turkenstain region and the Caucasus. This variety of plants was known as early as the second century A.D. in Greece: Galen, for example, known as "intybos" and recommended as a drug. Already the folk medicine, in fact, had in mind the benefits that the plant could cause the body and the ailments that could alleviate or cure.

Nutritional properties and benefits

Since ancient times, therefore, endive was particularly appreciated for some of its beneficial properties. The leaves of the plant, in fact, were used to make an infusion. Such infused, first, appears to be a powerful tonic, in the second place is also an effective diuretic and possesses properties purifying, since the plant is composed for more than 90% of water. It also has laxative properties and antipyretic. The infusion actually stimulates the intestine and helps regulate its activity, also if taken when you have a high fever helps to lower the temperature. As regards, however, its nutritional properties it represents a low-calorie and dietetic food. Also the leaves of the plant are rich in some very important vitamins for human health. In fact it includes a preponderance of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B and also vitamin K. But the endive isn't only beneficial because it contains many vitamins, it also represents a complete and healthy food mainly because it consists largely of minerals, calcium, potassium. Furthermore, it also indicates the presence, the more reduced iron and especially fibers, which help the intestinal transit. Last but not least, the plant is the poor contrast of harmful minerals such as sodium that is present in small percentages.

The use of endivia in cooking

The endive has a crunchy texture and is used successfully in cooking since it tends to take on the flavor of food with which it comes into contact. This is therefore an excellent flavor and is generally used for the realization of contours.
One of the dishes with endive best known and appreciated is the endive gratin. The ingredients to achieve this tasty contour are basic. First you must get four or six heads of Belgian endive, a stick of butter or two depending on the amount you consider it appropriate to use, the grated cheese, salt and pepper. Even the preparation of the outline is very simple and fast. First you need to wash and clean very well the endive. Once you have washed and dried it is necessary to cut them in half, and place them in the baking pan with butter. At this point let cook your plant on low heat after having dusted with salt and pepper. Must be careful that the endive bake without sag and remaining crisp. Precisely for this reason, if you feel you need while cooking you can moisten with a bit of water. After cooking you can distribute sull'endivia grated cheese, and if you want to make even more tasty dish you can also add the breadcrumbs and let gratin.

Curiosity

The endive is also known to be an excellent substitute for coffee. Maybe younger people ignore this use of the plant, but the most elderly still remember the bitter taste of the drink that ricavavano from its boiling. It seems that for the first time the plant has been used in this way in the seventeenth century, on indication of a Paduan doctor who wanted to utilize the phytotherapeutic capacity. Later in the years of the Napoleonic campaigns, as a result of the embargo, many went back to use it instead of coffee. The roasted roots of the plant, in fact, have a caramel and bitter aftertaste that make them suitable to create an acceptable substitute for caffeine. Later the practice was replicated during the rationing and shortages of food goods in the two world wars. 

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