Tag Archives: Leafy Vegetables

CICORETTA CON SALSICCIA (Chicory with fresh pork sausage)

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This photo above is a photo of one of the courses I very much enjoyed in a Sardinian Restaurant in Bologna called Taverna Mascarella. It was listed on their the menu as Cicoretta con salsiccia (fresh pork sausage)

Cicoretta is either young chicory or it can also mean wild chicory. The large featured photo is of a man collecting wild greens in Agrigento (by the entrance to the temples) and the one below is a photo of wild chicory sold in the Catania market in Sicily.

I have written about chicory on this blog before and it is one of my favourite green leafy vegetables. You could also make it with other greens: Cime di rape or Cavolo Nero (also called Tuscan cabbage) or Kale or even spinach.

See:
CICORIA
CAVOLO NERO
KALE

This is how to make Cicoretta con salsiccia:

INGREDIENTS
1 bunch of Chicory.
2 Italian fresh pork sausages (with or without fennel or chilli)
 
PROCESSES
Clean and wilt the greens. Drain them.
Cut sausage or remove the mince from the skins and separate it into small pieces. Saute the sausage in some extra virgin olive oil. Add the greens, salt and pepper (to your liking) and toss them around in the hot pan with the sausage meat until the greens are well coated and flavoured.
 
Cheese wafers
The crusty wedges you can see in the photo are made with grated Pecorino sardo (Sardinian pecorino).  If you add grated cheese to a heated non stick frypan and keep on cooking it it will stick together and form a wafer. You could do this on a stove or in an oven.
Try making small ones at first, just add a spoonful of grated cheese to a non stick frypan and watch it melt. Cool in the pan and the cheese will solidify and you will be able to lift it out with a spatula.

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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.

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CICORIA (Chicory)

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

INGREDIENTS
chicory (see below for amounts and type)
extra virgin olive oil
lemon juice
vinegar
salt and pepper
hard boiled eggs
anchovies

PROCESSES
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.

CIME DI RAPE (A winter green)

This is an other one of my favourite winter greens. And it is not a bad bunch!!

In Italian they are called cime di rape – literally translated as turnip tips (cime di rapa is the singular). They are sometimes also called broccoli di rape and are characterised by their strong bitter taste. They are deep green with small yellow flowers.

Cime di rape are certainly a very popular green vegetable and cooked all over Italy. It is particularly associated with the region of Puglia where the traditional classic pasta dish, orecchiette con cime di rape originates (orecchiette meaning little ears).

Cime di rape are members of the brassica or mustard family group. This diverse group includes plants whose leaves, flowers, stems and roots are cooked and eaten. For example popular brassicas include broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, cavolo nero. Some of the roots are kohlrabi, radish, swede and turnips. (By the way, I eat all of the green tops when I can get them and one of my favourite stall holders at the Queen Victoria Markets know this only too well).

A number of Asian greens are members of the brassicas and the Chinese broccoli and mustard greens are very similar in taste to broccoli di rapa.
As far as I know this vegetable can only be found at my favourite stall – Carmel and Gus’s Stall 61-63- in The Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, but it may also be available in suburban areas where the greengrocer is of Italian heritage.

In Adelaide many of the green grocer shops and vegetable growers are Italians and when I was living there, cime di rape seemed more readily available.  The seeds are easily found especially in shops which sell Italian food – my son and a number of my friends grow them successfully in their Adelaide suburban gardens.

Strangely enough, I came across a patch of luscious looking cime di rape at Heronswood (Digger’s Seeds, Victoria). It is marketed as one of the Green Manures, a bio fumigant crop for soils.

The cime di rape can be eaten as a contorno (side dish of vegetables) and cooked in the same way as Italians cook most greens – wilted and then  tossed around in oil and garlic (I use lots), salt and pepper or chilli, and cooked till softened. If the vegetable is cut small enough, there is no  need to wilt them first.
This is also the way of making a strong pasta sauce for orecchiette.  If you do not use orecchiette, casarecci (right -hand side of photo) or a small tubular pasta which can trap the sauce is suitable.

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Clean and prepare the cime as you do broccoli – leaves, flowers, stems and stalks. The tough, fibrous outer layer covering can be stripped from the large stalks (see photo above with the fibrous outer layer peeled back – remove this layer entirely).

See: EDIBLE WEEDS: Orecchiette e Broccoletti Selvatici

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KALE (Winter green vegetable and how to cook it)

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This is Gus.

Kale is not an Italian vegetable, I could not even find the name of it in my very large Italian dictionary.

I can remember telling Carmel, Gus’ wife, about having to cook the kale the day that I buy it because I cannot fit the plant in my fridge. She told me about a Northern European customer who told her that in her country this winter plant is usually covered by snow and that she keeps her kale in the freezer (cut it up into separate branches). Apparently this softens the plant making it easier to cook. Fascinating!!

I clean and braise kale the same way as I cook cavolo nero – it is similar in taste and has almost the same texture but I usually cook it for longer. I also cook it the same way as I sometimes cook brussel sprouts.

In the photo below coloured kale is in the vase and black kale( also called cavolo nero and Tuscan cabbage) is in the vase.

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See:

CAVOLO NERO and three ways to cook it

THOSE OTHER BRASSICAS (Cabbages and Brussel Sprouts and how to cook them)

 

COOKED KALE IN A SALAD

Any left over cooked kale makes a wonderful addition to a quinoa or a lentil salad ( for example to the grain or pulse I may add: chopped tomatoes, spring onion, pepitas, sliced celery, roasted pumpkin, braised carrots or braised cooked zucchini (if I have some leftovers in the fridge). The dressing could be a simple Italian: extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and lemon juice. Or it may be a Moroccan type dressing: pomegranate molasses, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, cumin and lemon juice.

As you can see from the photo, one plant can be very  large in size. There are  bronze ans silver coloured kale plants as well (see photo below) but the green type is the first kale to became available. The green plant laying horizontally is a cavolo nero.

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