ALL ABOUT FRISÉE (Insalata riccia)

Carmel is one of the favourite stall holders at the Queen Victoria Market where I buy most of my Italian vegetables. Apart from the usual range of vegetables she has the unusual greens that I cannot buy elsewhere:  cime di rape, batavia lettuce, chicory, endive/escarole, kale and vlita (see previous posts for descriptions and recipes). They also have frisée and last week she suggested that I write about it because she has lots of customers who would buy it, if only they knew what to do with it.

Is frisée endive or lettuce?

Frisée (also called curly endive, frisée lettuce) belongs in the chicory family,(endive/escarole, radicchio, witlof, cichory) so it has a slightly bitter taste. Frisée has long, narrow, curly leaves and I use it as a salad green . The outer leaves and the tips are a darker green and the centre inner leaves are paler, milder and more tender.

Frisée is called insalata riccia in Italian and it is more available in the north than in the south of Italy.

To make a green salad I prefer to buy a variety of green leafed vegatables and mix my own – I never buy a salad mix and if frisée is available I always purchase this.

I much prefer frisée to any of the lettuces. It has more taste and texture and lends itself well to mixing with other ingredients( see earlier post Salad Composee)
RECIPES FOR DIFFERENT SALADS using frisée… and there is no reason why you would not present the following as an Entrée.

As well as being a principal component in a mixed leaf salad, I particularly like frisée with:
  • hard boiled eggs, potatoes, green beans and anchovies
  • tomatoes black olives and slivers of pecorino cheese (formaggio fresco is good as well)
  • apple or pear with walnuts
  • feenel, black olives and orange
  • beetroot, walnuts and a sharp cheese like feta.

I have never cooked frisée, but I cannot see why it couldn’t be gently wilted (same method of braising escarole but only cooked for a shorter time) and I believe that this is a common way to eat in France.