Wild chicory, how to cook it and enhance it in the kitchen

Raw in mixed salad, cooked and sautéed in the Roman style, incorporated into fillings or drunk as an infusion: the field chicory it is truly an amazing wild herb and versatile in the kitchen. All its parts (leaves, flowers and roots) are edible but, clearly, they are used in different ways and for different purposes.

Chicory root, for example, is a great source of inulin and is used for the extraction of the component. The roasting of the same produces a drink known as chicory coffee, without exciting effects, to drink hot or cold. The leaves can be eaten both raw and cooked or fermented, while the flowers are eaten fresh until tender, they flavor wines, liqueurs or desserts when dried. Here are some tips for cooking chicory and enjoying its health benefits.

How to cook wild chicory

Wild chicory is a green leafy field vegetable. It grows spontaneously almost all year round and the peasant culinary tradition has been able to enhance its flavor with simple but tasty recipes. The leaves are more frequently consumed, but flowers and roots are also suitable for food consumption, mostly indirectly.

How to clean chicory

Chicory is generally harvested in tufts or bunches. For clean it methodically just separate the ribs at the base, discard the outermost leaves if damaged or yellowed and cut the same base with a sharp knife. Once the stems have been separated, the selection of the leaves continues and, when completed, the chicory is washed carefully. To avoid excessive waste of water, a large container is usually filled with cold water, the leaves are immersed and everything is rinsed in another container also filled with cold water. The operation must be repeated until the leaves are well cleaned of earth residues.

Be careful though. Don’t let the leaves soak for too long. These may lose some of their characteristic bitter taste and some of the vitamin C they contain.

raw or cotta

Finally, you can choose to eat the raw vegetables in salad. For this purpose, the youngest and most tender leaves of the chicory, also called chicory, are generally preferred. From lessa you can really indulge yourself by preparing humus, incorporating chicory in fillings and flans or by sautéing the vegetables in the Roman style.

How to remove bitterness from chicory

Chicory is a vegetable with a typically bitter taste. The flavor is more or less marked according to the variety harvested, but it is often preferred to “remove the bitterness” to make it more palatable.

Several procedures are known to obtain this result.

  • Cook chicory with potatoes. Prepare a pot with cold water, add a few potatoes and bring everything to a boil. Then, add the washed and drained chicory. Let her go for 10-15 minutes. Finally, drain and squeeze the vegetables to remove the cooking water. The potatoes will have absorbed most of the bitter taste.
  • Cook chicory with vinegar or lemon. Add a few slices of lemon or a drop of vinegar to the cooking water and throw away the chicory when the water has come to a boil. Let it cook for about 10 minutes, then drain the vegetables.
  • As an alternative to lemon and vinegar you can also use the bicarbonate. Be careful though. The bicarbonate added to the cooking water alters the color of the dishes making them darker and opaque, as well as depleting them of nutrients.
  • Blanch and blanch the chicory. To mitigate the bitter taste of the chicory, immerse the cleaned vegetables in boiling salted water and leave them on the heat without a lid for about 5 minutes. When the water has boiled again, remove the chicory and immerse it in water and ice for about 10 minutes. Then, spread it out on a tea towel and let it dry.

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