A few of our farmers are growing a lovely array of chicories, so I looked up a bit more info to share and found this great blog from the Whistling Train Farm in Washington state. She has some great information not just on chicories, but on a lot of the same goodies we see in our shares, so it’s worth a look around there.
Chicories include escarole, endives and radicchio in many varieties, and according to Whistling Farm’s blog, dandelion, though I have not been able to confirm that on any other website.
We’re excited to get some escarole for the shares this week. These leafy greens in the chicory family add a sharp bitter character to salads, but mellow and sweeten up a bit when cooked. If you aren’t a big fan of the bitter greens, I suggest cooking them to minimize the intensity. They are delicious braised slowly in a broth or caramelized with a high heat saute with onions and garlic (or green onions or garlic scapes). Adding a splash of balsamic vinegar and date syrup can make some magic happen–don’t be afraid to experiment.
We’ve seen some great varieties in the past, and we’re hoping to see some of them again in the coming season, including curly endive, esacarole, frisee and a variety of radicchio called Virtus or Sugarloaf, which has elongated heads that are pale green with a crisp pale yellow interior. They look similar to romaine but have a bitter-sweet radicchio flavor that’s nice in mixed salads.
A common suggestion for using chicory raw in salads is to pair it with salty cheese, fruit and nuts, and to use an assertive dressing with lemon juice or a strong vinegar, like balsamic. The Whistling Train blog has a number of recipes for salads and cooking suggestions for chickories, so check it out and enjoy!