One of the most wonderful things about growing a winter garden in Kihei is the fresh salad greens. Each winter I trail many different lettuces and gourmet greens - this winter I planted endive and escarole.
Like radicchio, endive and escarole are cool season greens from the chicory family but they're surprisingly more heat and sun tolerant than most of the radicchio I've grown. They need 3 to 4 months to reach full size but they can be grown as micro-greens.
Tres Fine Maraichere Endive
Endive leaves have different levels of frilliness or cut. Tres Fine had the finest cut of all the varieties I've trialed.Verde Fiorentina Escarole
Mahalo Robin for the seeds!
Escarole looks like a huge flower with a rosette of tender leaves growing in the center.
Bionda Cuore Pieno Escarole
Blanching a Head of Endive
Endive and escarole are traditionally blanched to turn the center leaves tender and buttery. There are various techniques for blanching the heads - I pulled the leaves upward and secured them with a plastic coated wire. Blanching can also be done by placing a bowl over the center of the plant or a board down the center of a row of plants.
The recommended number of days to blanch endive and escarole varies from 5 days to 2 weeks. I found that 5 to 7 days in full sun was sufficient. The color of the centers after blanching varied for each variety and ranged from light lemon to a beautiful golden yellow.
One of the best things about growing endive and escarole is that they aren't bothered by any of the destructive Kihei insects or cabbageworms. It's one of a few salad greens that doesn't need to be covered with a row cover or tulle.
I found that endive and escarole grew larger in full sun but they survived our winter climate better when grown in partial shade. Like lettuce and cabbage, they don't grow as large in Kihei as they do in cooler climates
Tres Fine Maraichere seeds are available from The Natural Gardening Company.
Gourmet Seed and Seeds From Italy have large selections of Italian endive and escarole. Wild Garden Seed also has a good selection.
Endive is used in mesclun salad mixes but escarole is more commonly used in Italian cuisine. Following is a link to several recipes for escarole: