22/10/2012

Chicory Greens with Pancetta (Cichorium intybus)

It's being a beautiful Autumn here. After some (not many) heavy downpours a while ago the weather has become very warm and sunny again. Everything seems to be growing again and the fields and meadows are extremely green. Yesterday, while walking I spotted lots of edible fresh young leaves sprouting and even quite a few flowers. There was mallow, lemon balm, false nettle, nettles, dandelions, chicory, different mints, comfrey,  violet and dock to name only a few. I picked a large bag of mixed greens, well actually chicory with a few mixed leaves thrown in.


 Chicory leaves look and taste very similar to dandelions. Infact I've just recently learned to tell them apart without the presence of the tell-tale yellow dandelion flower. If you look closely the leaves are a different shape, and chicory has hairs  underneath the midrib, but as chicory gets older the leaves   become more and more like dandelions, until the arrival of the lovely blue flowers.
However, I've decided it doesn't really matter, as both types of leaves work in the same type of recipes and if they are mixed that's fine aswell.






Dandelion leaves on the left, chicory on the right.


When the leaves are young they are really tasty in salads, but older leaves need to be cooked. Many Italians really like the bitter taste of these leaves. My husband loves a salad of just young chicory or dandelion leaves  with some raw onion rings, salt, olive oil and lots of balsamic vinegar. I prefer just a few leaves mixed with blander salad leaves.
Dandelion and Chicory roots, dried and ground, can be used to make a coffee substitute in an emergency, but I would rather drink tea if that was the only option!





Everyone can recognise the yellow dandelion, but do you know what chicory flowers look like?
Until I became interested in wild plants, I actually thought they were cornflowers. When chicory looks like this it's too late to eat the leaves, unless they grow again in the autumn.



                                  



















These photos of flowering chicory were taken in July.
It was very hot and the photos were taken very early
 in the morning.
They were a  beautiful, vibrant colour just after day-break, but quickly faded and after only a couple of hours disappeared until the following morning.





This is what I did with my bag of chicory;

Chicory Mixed Greens with Pancetta

500g young, mixed greens
      (Chicory/Dandelion/Swiss Chard)
150g pancetta/bacon (cubes or chopped)
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Wash and trim the greens carefully.                                                                                                       
Boil for 5 minutes in a large pan of salted water. If they seem to bitter change the water.
Drain and squeeze out excess water.
In a frying pan sautè the garlic in a couple of tablespoons of oil.
(I leave it whole and remove later. Don't let it burn).
Add the pancetta and sautè for a couple of minutes.
Add the greens and sautè. Add more oil if necessary.
Serve hot with a generous splash of balsamic vinegar.


 Erbazzone with chicory 

450/500g of ready made pastry.
( I used pasta brisée-2x 230g) but you can use anything or make your own)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
60g grated parmesan cheese
100g ricotta
3 shallots(chopped)
500g mixed greens
 Follow the instructions as above with onions instead of garlic.You can add bacon/pancetta aswell, but I didn't.
After boiling chop the greens finely and mix with the  onions and cheese. If the mixture is too wet, heat a little to dry out. Lay out the pastry oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Press down the greens and lay out the other pastry sheet on the top. Here it's up to you what shape you decide to use or how to decorate or close the pie. I add a little olive oil and press down the edges. Prick/ stab all over. Brush with a little milk and cook in a preheated oven 190°C for 25 minutes or until golden.
Eat hot or cold.


Chicory Greens with Pancetta/ Erbazzone  on  
Punk Domestics

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tinytiptuesdays@naturesnurtureblog.com
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wildcraft wednesday @mindbodyandsoleonline.com



5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry Jill, I've just removed your comment by mistake, thankyou anyway! If you do decide to make coffee from the roots now is the time, but they are difficult to find without the flowers, you need to remember where they were in spring. Hank Shaw has tried and blogged about it @ honest-food.net

      Delete
  2. Are the flowers edible? I bought some at a farmer's market and thought it was just regular dandelion until the pretty blue flowers came.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes they are, add them to your salads :-) Thanks for visiting

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  4. 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.
    http://www.adeptimpex.com/chicory_supplier_india.php

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