I bought some chicory at the Queen Victoria Market this morning – it is a winter vegetable but obviously still around and in good condition, even in November. As you can see in the photo this particular type of chicory has scarlet stalks.
Well, I call this chicory. There is so much confusion about chicory; it gets confused with endives, escarole, radicchio (especially the green coloured radicchio, often called radicchio biondo or radicchio di Trieste) and even witlof. They all have a distinctive bitter taste, but to me chicory is this one, the one with the long serrated leaves.
I have found puntarelle salad in some Italian restaurants in Australia. These are chicory shoots of a variety of chicory called catalogna. The shoots are either picked while the plant is very young and tender but more commonly when the plant is going to seed and sends out shoots. The word puntarelle (from punta) means small shoots or points.
I cook the outer leaves as I do leafy greens – softened before I braise them in oil, garlic and a little chilli .(see CAVOLO NERO).
The tender lighter coloured green leaves from the centre (or the sprouting shoots at this time of year) I use in salads, either as part of a green leaf salad, or to contrast a sweeter tasting ingredient, for example, beetroot, borlotti beans or fennel and orange.
A favourite way to use the centre is to use it like Sicilians use cicorino (chicory, often wild and found in spring in Sicily and also called la prima – the first). Pino Correnti, a respected food authority about Sicilian food thinks that this salad is eaten in Troina, in north – central Sicily.
chicory (see below for amounts and type)
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
hard boiled eggs
Wash and cut into small pieces the chicory.
Make the vinaigrette with the oil, vinegar, lemon and seasoning.
Add a few chopped anchovies to the dressing and dress the salad.
Add hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters.
Accompany it with bread.(I like it as a first course as well. For this option I add more eggs and whole anchovies).
FEATURE PHOTO Puntarelle with soft drained ricotta. Creamed goats’ cheese would be OK as well.