The Chicory Family—Endive, Escarole, Radicchio, and Dandelions

Chicory Chick, Cha La, Cha La

The chicory family is a wide and varied group-they can be loose-leafed or tightly-headed, tapered or round, smooth-leaved or frilled. They are also brightly colored, ranging from purest white and pale yellow to bright green or maroon. All members of the chicory family are favored for the bitterness that they all share, unlike lettuces which are chosen for their delicacy.

The chicories’ bite and texture combine nicely with richer ingredients in salads, like nuts, fruits, and sharp cheeses or smoked salmon, chicken, or ham.

They prefer cool weather and are at their prime in the fall. Spring turns to summer heat too quickly to reliably get a tasty crop early in the year, although we try every spring. Too much heat leads to incredibly bitter, tough leaves.

Try any Chicory salad with the following additions:
Fresh Shell Beans or Fava Beans, blanched until tender; Pancetta or Thick Bacon, lightly browned. Remember that adding vinegar or lemon juice will cut the bitterness of a harsh chicory.

Chicory Varieties We Grow:

Frisée (curly Endive)
Escarole (also called Batavian)
Pan di Zucchero (Italian for “Sugarloaf” , a very mild chicory with a huge, swirling head of green)
Chioggia Radicchio (most common type of radicchio, with baseball-sized red and white heads)
Treviso Radicchio (romaine-shaped heads of red and white)
Castelfranco Radicchio(baseball-sized heads of red and green)
Dandelion (our cultivated variety has larger leaves than the garden weed and is less bitter)

Arugula salad with figs, pine nuts, and radicchio

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 bunch (3 ounces) baby arugula
1 head radicchio, halved, cored, and cut into 1 1/2-inch-wide strips
1/2 pound ripe fresh figs (about 8), stemmed and quartered
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Add arugula, radicchio, figs, and pine nuts; toss to combine.


Treviso radicchio salad with walnut vinaigrette

8 thin slices pancetta (about 4 ounces)
3 heads Treviso radicchio (about 1 1/2 pounds), quartered lengthwise
1/2 cup walnut oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
2/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 ounces shaved young Pecorino Toscano cheese

1. Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat; arrange pancetta in skillet in a single layer. Cook, turning occasionally, until crisp, about 12 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Break into 1-inch pieces.

  1. 2. Put radicchio in a large bowl. Add oil to skillet; heat over medium heat. Add shallots; immediately remove skillet from heat. Whisk in vinegar,walnuts, salt, and pepper; pour over radicchio. Toss well. Top with pancetta and cheese.

Radicchio, hazelnut, and goat cheese salad

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 heads radicchio (about 1 pound total), torn
1/3 cup blanched hazelnuts or almonds, or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (4 ounces)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and sugar; season with salt and pepper. Add radicchio and hazelnuts and toss to combine. Serve salad topped with cheese.

Sautéed radicchio with honey and balsamic vinegar

2 heads radicchio, cored and torn into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey

1. Rinse radicchio (leave some water still clinging to leaves). In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add radicchio and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add vinegar and honey and stir to combine.

Roasted radicchio

2 medium heads radicchio, quartered lengthwise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Put radicchio wedges on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat, and turn each wedge so a cut side faces sheet. Roast, turning once, until leaves are wilted and slightly charred, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter.

2. Just before serving, drizzle vinegar over each wedge, and garnish with cheese shavings.

Hearts of Escarole with Apples and Cheese

1 head Escarole (or other chicory)
1 Sweet or Dessert Apple
1/4 Shelled Walnuts or Hazelnuts
3 to 4 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp. White Wine Vinegar
2 ounces Roquefort or Goat Cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Trim the escarole, discarding any tough outer leaves, wash thoroughly, and spin dry. Peel, core, and slice the apple. Toast the nuts in the oven for about 5 minutes. Take the nuts out of the oven and rub them in a towel to remove any loose skins.

2. Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Toss the escarole and apple together with this dressing. Sprinkle with the cheese, crumbled, and the toasted nuts.

Wilted Escarole

Wash and trim the escarole. Cut the leaves into wide strips. Sautée in olive oil, covered, until wilted and bright green, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add a splash of vinegar and serve.

Grilled Chicories

1. Any chicory can be grilled-if small, they can be grilled whole, but heads larger than a clenched fist should be halved or quartered. Dip the pieces in a basin or water and let them drain in a colander-this will help them keep from burning. Brush lightly with a vinaigrette made with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a few sprigs of thyme and alittle crushed garlic.

2. Season the chicories with salt and pepper and place them on a grill over a medium-hot fire. Turn the chicories often on the grill as each side begins to brown lightly, basting with the vinaigrette as you turn. Total cooking time will vary from 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the variety. Small, leafy ones take less time than firm-headed types. When they have finished cooking, the chicories should be deeply browned and crisp on the surface, and completely cooked through and soft. They are good as accompaniments to grilled meats of fish, in pastas or on pizza, or with other grilled vegetables.

Curly Endive, Radicchio, and Peach (or Pear) Salad

1 Shallot
1 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper
1 Radicchio
3 small heads Curly Endive
3 Ripe Peaches (or Pears)
6 tbsp. Olive Oil

1. Peel and finely dice the shallot and put it in a salad bowl with the vinegar and a pinch of salt

2. Fill up a sink or large bowl with cold water. Peel the radicchio, discarding the outer leaves; tear the remaining leaves into bite-size pieces and toss into the water. Remove the outer leaves of the endive, saving only the pale green and white, tender hearts. (Reserve the outer leaves for cooking greens.) Cut out the tough core and add the leaves to the sink. Gently agitate the greens and let them sit in the water a few minutes. Scoop out the leaves from the water, without disturbing the dirt at the bottom of the sink. Dry the leaves in a salad spinner.

3. Peel and slice the peaches into 1/4-inch wedges. Whisk the olive oil into the shallot and vinegar. Add the peaches to the bowl, season with salt and pepper, and gently toss again, mixing all the ingredients. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

One response to “The Chicory Family—Endive, Escarole, Radicchio, and Dandelions

  1. Chicory is the valuable herb which for a long time has won popularity in national medicine.Chicory was also often prescribed by herbalists of recent centuries to cure a whole host of ailments; the herbalist of the middle ages often recommended herbal remedies made from the chicory roots as tonics, as laxatives, and as diuretics.

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