Members of the chicory family (clockwise from left): escarole, Belgian endive, curly frisée, radicchio (photo by Joseph De Leo; styled by Mariya Yufest)
Chicories, infamous for their brazenly bitter bite, often get brushed aside in favor of the mellow lettuces interspersed with them along the produce aisle. But don't let their more assertive nature deter you -- chicories are enormously versatile. While many people know "chicory" for its taproot, which is famously used as a budget-friendly and naturally caffeine-free coffee substitute, the term also refers to the full family of leafy greens that sprout upward from the steepable root. It is toward that tight-knit clan of leaves -- from frilly frisée to edgy endive -- that we turn our attention today.
A (Very) Brief Backstory
The Egyptians began cultivating chicory root for its medicinal and digestive properties. Later, the Romans decided they liked chicory greens in salads, and today, many chicories still sport Italian names, like radicchio. Chicories made their way to America in the 1700s, and their hardiness enabled them to adapt to the New World’s varied and often cooler climate. These days, chicory coffee made from the root enjoys the company of beignets in New Orleans (their are worse friends to have), but beyond the Gulf Coast, the greens take the spotlight, finding their way into myriad salad mixes, where their bitterness is offset by sweet lettuces.
Belgian Endive (sounds like on-deev)
Curly Endive or Frisée
Selection & Preparation
Cream Baked Endive with Bacon and Pecans [Food52] (photo by James Ransom)
Brown Rice Pilaf with Shrimp & Wilted Radicchio
Pineapple Shrimp in Endive Leaves
Slow-Cooker White Bean and Escarole Soup
Grilled Bitter Greens with Soft-Poached Eggs
Warm Fig and Blue Cheese Salad [Food52]
How do you enjoy chicories? Share your cooking tips and serving suggestions in the comments section below.
Like this post? Check out last week's From Scratch topic: Roasting Fall Fruits.
Person is viewing Almond Crusted Salmon with Caramelized Onions and Basil
Person is viewing Basic Hulled Barley
Person is viewing Green Goddess Halibut Burgers