Chicory - fresh and crispy: it keeps its elegant pallor in the dark
For some palates, the bitter taste of chicory takes some getting used to. It is the bitter substances that make the vegetables so valuable from a nutritional point of view. They stimulate the metabolism and gastric juice production so that the vegetables are easily digestible.
However, chicory today contains comparatively few bitter substances. The breeders have responded to the wishes of consumers and developed milder varieties. While the bitter stalk had to be removed in the past, the vegetables can now be used almost completely in the kitchen. Only the root end is cut off.
If the leaves are still too tart, add a teaspoon of sugar to the cooking water.
Chicory can be prepared in a variety of ways. It is usually served raw as a salad - combined with mandarins, apples, fennel, avocado or lamb's lettuce. This creates a wonderful balance to the bitter note. The tart fresh vegetables also taste warm from the wok, on the tarte flambee, in risotto or gratinated from the oven. For a delicious side dish, the tender sprouts are cut into strips and steamed until they are bite-proof with a little butter and broth. Chicory is ideal for the slim line, since it contains only 16 calories per 100 g. At the same time, the leafy vegetables provide the body with valuable ingredients such as beta-carotene, vitamins B1, B2 and C, folic acid and potassium.
From a botanical point of view, the chicory is the sprout of the chicory root, which stems from the wild way observatory. The vegetable farmers harvest the roots in autumn and temporarily store them in cold stores. In driftwoods, they are then washed in tubs with tempered nutrient solution until the tender sprouts grow within a few weeks. This is done in absolute darkness so that no green chlorophyll is formed and the leaves remain light.
Chicory is commercially available all year round, but the main offer period runs from November to April. Most of the vegetables are imported from France, the Netherlands or Belgium. At the weekly market there is often also domestic goods. Pay attention to freshness and quality when shopping. The leaves should be white with yellow tips and should not show any wilted areas. Even specimens with green leaf ends are not a good choice because they usually taste particularly bitter. The leafy vegetables can be kept for a few days in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator.
Heike Kreutz, respectively