Grilled Endive Salad with Carrot Dressing

Endive is usually chopped into a salad or filled with a dip of some sort of creamy filling as an appetizer. But grilling brings out the best of this vegetable.

It’s one of my favorites, Belgian Endive, a chicory, that has a slightly bitter flavor and crispy crunch. I love using it in as many preparations as possible. It is great filled with tasty treats for a party, filled with hummus for a quick lunch, or chopped into any salad to add a slightly bitter note.

When I was working at a local garden center many years ago, I thought it would be fun to try my hand at forcing the little heads, or “chicons,” but this does take a little planning and a lot of patience.

A bit of planning

First, in early spring, you need to sow the seeds of a “witloof” (Dutch for white leaf) chicory which is widely available from many seed suppliers. It likes a nice loose, well-fed organic soil, one that will easily accommodate a long taproot such as a large carrot, even longer. During the summer growing season, it is important to thin, as one does with carrots, to ensure the roots have plenty of space to grow uncrowded. You want the fattest roots possible.

In the fall, harvest the chicory and save all the largest roots to force. When I planted my “crop,” I borrowed a couple of florists’ buckets from the garden center and filled them with very loose growing mix; you can also use a five-gallon pail. I used a big stick to make holes to the bottom of the containers and nestled the roots inside, close together. I watered them and covered them with a black plastic garbage bag. 

Then, I waited

They were stored in a closet, and later in the winter I began harvesting the best tasting chicons I’d ever had. The heads were a little funny looking and not as tightly held as what one finds in the store, but they were delicious, and it was fun.

Now, I went through the whole process once and probably won’t do it again, although you never know how the spirit might move me. But I gained an appreciation for all the work that goes into producing these delicious little heads of delight, and wouldn’t dream of complaining about their expense. 

I love the flavor of endive when it is grilled. Still a bit bitter, but with a little more sweetness to balance it out. This salad is all about the grilled endive, and you can just grill it, place it on a bed of lettuce, top with the carrot dressing, and stop there. However, the full salad with spicy radishes, protein-rich black beans, onion, and crunchy lettuces makes this a delightful meal.

Options, of course

I used purple-colored mixed greens including lettuces and frisée (another chicory), purple Daikon and watermelon radishes, and black beans. You can use whatever baby lettuces or beans you like or can find.

The salad dressing is reminiscent of the carrot ginger dressing I get with take-out Japanese salads. I like to lightly steam the carrots before adding them to the dressing to help things become a little more creamy, but if you want more texture, leave it raw. You can use rice wine vinegar in place of the lemon for a more traditional flavor if you like, but I prefer the lemon.

If you’ve been over indulging this past month on holiday treats, this is a great main dish to give you a nutritional boost at the start of the new year!

Grilled Endive Salad with Carrot Dressing

For the dressing:

  • 1 ½ cups diced carrots, steamed
    • 1-inch knob ginger, chopped up
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. carrot steaming liquid
    • Zest and juice of one lemon
    • 1 tsp. soy sauce, low-sodium
    • 1 tsp. sesame oil
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 tsp. maple syrup

For the salad:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 4 heads Belgian endive, quartered
    • 1 onion, quartered
    • 1 parsnip, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
    • 1 cup mixed colored baby carrots, large dice
    • 1 cup radishes, ¼” dice
    • 1 cup black beans
    • 1 small head Boston lettuce
    • 2 cups mixed baby greens
    • Parsley for garnish

Make the dressing. First, steam the carrots until very tender. Drain, but save the steaming liquid.

In a small food processor, combine the ginger and garlic and finely process. Add the carrots, carrot liquid, lemon zest and juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, and maple syrup along with a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Process until very smooth, and set aside.

Prepare the vegetables. Quarter both the endive and the onion by cutting lengthwise, leaving the root end intact. Cut the baby carrots into two or three pieces. Chop the radishes into small dice and set aside.

Steam the baby carrots until crisp/tender, or leave them raw if you prefer. Set aside with the radishes.

Heat a grill pan. Rub the endive, onion, and parsnip with oil and season. Grill until the vegetables have developed some color, turn, and continue grilling until just softened. You don’t want them to go too far.

Line your serving platter with the butter lettuce and fill the center with the baby greens. Mix the black beans into the radish/carrot mixture, and mound into the center. Add the grilled vegetables to the platter along with the dressing, and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper and parsley.

The best part? The endive and the dressing, you can start and end there if you like.

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  1. This looks and sounds delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. You’re welcome Samantha! It’s one of those salads you think about and have to make!

  2. Sheree says:

    I agree with Samantha! I love chicory cooked or raw but hadn’t thought about grilling it.

    1. Do try Sheree, I think you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise!

      1. Sheree says:

        I certainly will give it a go

  3. Yummeee! A very healthy share too. Reblog!

    1. Thank you my friend! We need a little delicious light right now!

  4. Beautiful colorful plate. Love the idea of the carrot dressing! 🙂

    1. Thank you Ronit! I love the color too, it makes me happy, like that sunny soup you made recently!

      1. Winter is definitely the time to add color to our food! 🙂

      2. Oh, we need it so!

  5. cmartzloff says:

    This looks so delicious! I love all the colors.

    1. Thank you! The color is the first treat!

  6. Angela says:

    This really sounds wonderful. I love the carrot dressing.

    1. Thanks Angela! It’s so good! I’d put it on just about anything!

  7. bernlag says:

    I wish I had this recipe over the weekend. I made a salad with roasted butternut squash and it was good but this would have been spectacular.

    1. Thank you! There’s always next weekend! I made the big platter of this salad for Sunday dinner and served the last of the soup from New Year’s leftovers. So good, and I felt like I was giving my body what it needed, not just what it wanted!

  8. Amazing, your own harvest of Belgian witloof. What a job! I’m pretty sure the ones you find in the stores is cultivated on water.
    Beautiful dish!

    1. Thank you! I’ve never seen it grown commercially, but I have great respect for the time involved!

  9. I’ve had endives in salads before but never dreamed of carrot dressing. Looking forward to trying this combination next time I have endives.

    1. The grilling just to soften also makes them just a bit sweeter. So good!

  10. Grilled Endive Salad with Carrot Dressing

    On Monday, January 4, 2021, The New Vintage Kitchen wrote:

    > Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen posted: ” Endive is usually chopped into a > salad or filled with a dip of some sort of creamy filling as an appetizer. > But grilling brings out the best of this vegetable. It’s one of my > favorites, Belgian Endive, a chicory, that has a slightly bitter flavor and > ” >

  11. I was on a quest last year to find endive. No luck. I’m definitely going to try harder this year. It may mean putting some miles on the car. 😜

  12. I love the various types of radicchio but I never liked endives 😆
    But I love grilled vegetables and it must be very interesting in taste ☺️
    And carrot dressing? That’s great 😋

    1. I sometimes do this salad or a version of it with both grilled endive AND radicchio, my other favorite, So substitutions are perfect!

  13. Grilled endive??? never thought about that! Sounds delicious!!!!

    1. It’s really yummy! One of my favorites for a salad.

  14. I’ve got to try this, I love grilled romaine and your dressing sounds so different and delicious! Thanks Dorothy, yum!

    1. Many thanks Jenna! Grilled romaine is one of my favorites too, especially if it is a charcoal grill!

  15. cakefiles says:

    This looks and sounds lovely! I like carrots with lemon juice so much, so this is a must try for me!

    1. Thank you! The dressing is really flavorful, and you can adjust the amount of lemon, ginger, and sesame to suit your own taste.

    1. Thank you! It really was quite yummy!

  16. Sandhya says:

    This sald looks so delicious! Love the flavor and texture combinations in it!

    1. Thank you! I adore the flavor of grilled bitter greens in general, although I’m not sure you could call blanched endive a “green.”

  17. This is beautiful! I’m a big fan of raw Belgian endive and use it as a delivery device for yummy bites of richer food, and have actually never cooked it, but your post about grilling it has me rethinking my raw-only strategy. Thank you!!!

    1. You’re very welcome Kim, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how delicious this is grilled. I love it grilled and mixed with grilled radicchio as well. YUM!

      1. I think I will be pleasantly surprised, too! I’ll try to remember to come back and let you know.

      2. Please do! ❤️

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