Bitter sautéed greens are very popular in Umbria where we live part of the year, and we enjoy them frequently at home in the US as well. Chicory, or cicoria, is a cultivated bitter green that belongs to the same family as dandelion, and has a similar bitter flavor and is often used interchangeably. Unfortunately, unlike the old Nonna’s of the past, we cannot simply walk along the roads and collect wild dandelion greens to bring home and cook in our kitchen due to the prevalent use of pesticides today.
Cultivated chicory ensures that we have safe, bitter greens to enjoy at the table and they can be found at many specialty stores, health food stores, and outdoor markets. We grow cicoria here in our Umbrian garden so we have it available whenever we crave it, and I usually prepare it at least once or twice a week.
Bitter greens are high in iron, calcium, Vitamins A, C, K and B2 among other vitamins and minerals, and at one point in the past, these greens were used as medicine. On top of the nutritional benefits listed, they also contain more protein and iron than spinach. These nutritional power house greens can help prevent against cancer, inflammation and the improve the immune system, skin, and digestion.
You can find these greens used in salads, teas, and soups, but we prefer sautéing them after boiling them in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. If you cannot find cultivated chicory locally, other bitter greens include endive, arugula, broccoli rabe, kale, and turnip greens. While arugula and baby kale are tasty in a salad, I find chicory too bitter to eat raw, while it is delicious when sautéed. When prepared as I do in this recipe, chicory loses a some of its bitterness and becomes a delicious side dish to pair with grilled or roasted meat and poultry.
Deborah Mele Revised 2022
- 2 Large Bunches Cultivated Cicoria
- 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Dash Of Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 Large Cloves of Garlic, Finely Chopped
- Rinse the greens well, and remove any brown ends, and coarsely chop.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, then drop in the prepared greens.
- Boil for 10 to 15 minutes or until very tender.
- Remove the greens from the water and allow to cool in a colander.
- Squeeze dry to remove excess water.
- In a large, heavy saucepan or frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Add the garlic clove, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
- When the garlic is fragrant but hasn't yet begun to brown, add the greens.
- Saute for 5 minutes, tossing the greens in the flavored oil as they cook.
- Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Place on a platter, and serve warm or at room temperature.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 122Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 52mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g