Chicory or Belgian Endive is a perennial with a tap root that can be used as a winter vegetable or for salads. Chicory (endive) has a sharp taste.
When going for fresh chicory, buy the paler ones as these are less bitter than the greener. However, they are not as bitter as they once were, because many are now grown in the dark to reduce their inherent bitterness. Nibble a bit before you use them, if they are really bitter, blanch them by pouring boiling water over the leaves in a colander and allow to drain.
Fresh young chicory leaves straight from the garden are great in green salads, or in winter used forced leaves for a winter salad. Blanched older chicory, bought as a vegetable and crisped in iced water, may be eaten raw in salads to give a decent cool, crisp bitterness. The scoop-shaped leaves can be used for hors d'oeuvres stuffed with caviare or cottage cheese.
The tap root is bitter and roasted for making chicory coffee, for a coffee substitute. To make your own roasted chicory:
- Wash, slice, dry in gentle heat, then roast and grind.