Chicory is a plant that belongs to the chicory family, as well as radicchio, wild chicory (for example, dandelion), Belgian salad, escarole and many other vegetables that we eat every day. Almost all of them have a slightly bitter flavor but always aromatic and pleasant.
Cutting and harvesting chicory are varieties of the Cichorium intybus species belonging to the Composite family. They develop with a basal rosette and have rounded or elongated leaves with a smooth margin and colors ranging from light to dark green and red-leaved varieties.
NUTRITIONAL PROPERTIES OF CICORINO
Both wild and cultivated chicories are rich in minerals (such as potassium, calcium and iron) and vitamins (vitamins of group B, C and K contained in both leaves and roots), beta-carotene and inulin.
They have diuretic and purifying properties (useful for counteracting water retention), regulate the functions of the intestine, liver and kidneys, favoring the secretion of bile (thanks to the presence of a bitter principle, chicoric acid) and diuresis with a consequent general purifying and detoxifying effect which is also reflected on the appearance of the skin.
Thanks to its properties it helps regulate the amount of glucose and cholesterol in the blood; it is therefore a particularly valuable food for those suffering from diabetes or high cholesterol.
The root contains inulin, a soluble fiber often used in food supplements that promotes digestion and regulates intestinal function.
CICORINO ON THE TABLE
Chicory is mainly used in cooking and in the pharmaceutical field, thanks to its countless properties. In the kitchen, the leaves are mainly used, fresh or cooked, while the roots are mainly used for medicinal purposes.
In addition to being good, chicory is also very good and in the kitchen it lends itself to many combinations. It is usually eaten raw, for example, it can be simply combined with boiled eggs, diced boiled potatoes, anchovy fillets or tuna in oil and fresh onions.
It is also excellent paired in a fruit salad, thus creating a truly beneficial mix of vitamins. Cicorino, diced apples and walnuts or almonds is a truly unusual and delicious combination.
Chicory can also be tasted cooked as a condiment for pasta, such as tagliatelle seasoned with chicorino fried together with garlic and chilli and combined with fresh cherry tomatoes; it can be used to stuff meat, especially chicken or quiches, pizzas and focaccias. It also goes very well with legumes. Like chicory, chicory is also very good simply sautéed in a pan with a sauté of garlic and chilli.
Clam soup with sautéed chicory
Ingredients (for 2 people):
500 gr. of clams
3 bunches of chicory
2 hot peppers
3 cloves of red garlic
1/2 glass of dry white wine
parsley, 3 bunches
sliced altamura or Tuscan bread
salt and extra virgin olive oil
Soak the clams in water and salt for a couple of hours. Rinse the clams well to remove any residual sand. Wash the vegetables and put them to steam.
In a large pan season a drizzle of oil with a clove of garlic and a chilli, pressing down well with a wooden spoon. Add the clams, half a glass of wine and cover immediately, letting the molluscs open. Heat a drizzle of oil in a pan with a clove of garlic and the remaining chilli, briefly add the steamed chicory, just enough time to flavour it. Toast the slices of bread, once hot rub them with the remaining garlic clove. Quickly put together the dish: a few slices of bread, the clams with their sauce and the chicory.