I talk about chicory a lot. Not the reddish yellow tipped salad like leaf known by us British, but the long leafy green kind you find in Italy. It seems impossible to find it here, but I’m pleased to say I’ve managed to track down the kind I’m after in seed form. You can buy it here. I’m so excited, I can’t wait to sow the seeds for a much anticipated bumper crop next year.
I first fell in love with chicory at my Zia Teresa’s. Huge mounds of the dark glossy green leaves glistening (and swimming!) in Rizzello olive oil were laid down in front of me. As a 15-year-old vegetarian it was right up my street. In my great longing for my southern Italian leafy friend I’ve made do with spring greens in the past, which are also a real favourite of mine.
I did manage to grow some chicory in my garden this year – Grumolo Verde – although it’s not the exact variety I’m after (I planted it before I found the one I wanted) it’s quite close and tastes of that great bitterness that I’ve been craving after. It’s a great leaf to grow because the harvest time stretches out until late November. The cut and come again leaves of the Grumolo Verde variety can also be used in salads instead of cooking them up. Although be warned these leaves are very bitter, which I love, but others don’t.
I eat mine boiled and sautéed served with some buttered crusty white bread. If the thought of a bowl of boiled greens for your dinner doesn’t sound that exciting then you can serve them as a side of course.
Large bunch of chicory or spring greens
Good quality olive oil
1 Clove garlic
1 Small deseeded red chilli (optional)
- Boil greens for 10 minutes or longer until very soft, but not breaking apart.
- Finely chop the garlic and chilli. Gently fry the garlic and chilli in a generous helping of good quality olive oil.
- Drain the greens thoroughly then place in the pan with the garlic and chilli. Sautee for 5 minutes until nicely mixed together.
- Drizzle a glug of olive oil over the top before eating. Serve with crusty white bread for dipping.
*Remember leafy greens cook down a lot so make sure you boil up enough.