Green Summer Salad with Chicory

Unfamiliar fruit and vegetables: you know the ones. You might have seen a foreign fruit on a supermarket shelf but never bought it yourself. You might have tasted an unusual vegetable in a restaurant but haven’t the foggiest idea how to prepare it. If this is you, don’t worry. To be honest I think there are a lot more of us than we’d care to admit.

Should this sound familiar, how about picking one of those packs of fruit or veg at you local grocers that you wouldn’t normally buy? You might even be surprised. Give yourself a little challenge this summer. Over the next few weeks I want to highlight some of those not-your-every-day-veg, with interesting facts about them and hopefully some good recipes to boot!

So I will start on the topic of Chicory (aka. Endive):

If you have never used it before, Chicory tips are a lovely salad leaf with a slightly bitter flavour. Because of this bitterness, it makes an interesting addition to a salad. It is also high in vitamin C.

So this salad green salad with chicory should mean no more generic Iceberg lettuce or salad-in-a-bag for you next time!

My Grandmother loved a chicory salad, often adding lengths of celery for crunch and apple slices for a contrasting sweetness. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:
3 tips of chicory (red or green)
1 large head of celery
1 apple (Cox variety is a nice choice or any other eating apple)
1/2 a cup of walnuts
Parsley to garnish

For a very simple French dressing (optional)

2 parts good olive oil to 1 part white wine vinegar.
You may add a teaspoon of whole grain mustard to every cup of French dressing made if you fancy an extra kick, a splash of apple juice to sweeten or even both.

Method:
Split off the chicory leaves and place in a bowl along with thin slices of apple and similar sized lengths of celery. Then if you wish, toss through a little French dressing (nothing too strong). Garnish with walnuts and parsley.

Serve immediately. Preparing this salad beforehand will result in the chicory and apples browning in the open air.

I love this recipe because it is so versatile. It goes well with barbecued chicken kebabs and flat breads, or a cold roast beef platter. Chicory is also a great braised. Slice the tips roughly in half at an angle and brush with a bit of oil, before placing on a griddle briefly with a bit of onion or under a direct flame in grill or over a barbecue. Like this, chicory tips are a fantastic accompaniment with a chunky bit of pan-fried fish steak or fish en papillote.

So think about giving your self a challenge one day next week with a fruit or vegetable that you’ve always wondered about, but hesitated to buy at the supermarket. You never know what you might enjoy.    ~

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