Witlof as it is known in Australia has a small head of cream-coloured leaves. The tender leaves are slightly bitter; the whiter the leaf, the less bitter the taste. The harder inner part of the stem at the bottom of the head should be cut out before cooking to prevent bitterness. It is grown completely underground or indoors in the absence of sunlight in order to prevent the leaves from turning green and opening up. The plant has to be kept just below the soil surface as it grows, only showing the very tip of the leaves. It is often sold wrapped in blue paper to protect it from light and so preserve its pale colour and delicate flavour. The smooth, creamy white leaves may be served stuffed, baked, boiled, cut and cooked in a milk sauce, or simply cut raw. The technique for growing blanched witlof (endives) was accidentally discovered in the 1850s at the Botanical Garden of Brussels in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Belgium.
Witlof contains Vitamins B and C and is a good source of folic acid.
Buy your fresh vegetables online or in store from Jesmond Fruit Barn. Fresh is best!