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Sep 26, 2008 09:22 AM

Chicory relative - please help id and cook

I bought a head of lettuce at the FM a couple of weeks ago. It was labeled, but I don't recall the name, and I can't find it in internet searches. The sign did say it was a relative of chicory.

It is the color of green cabbage, the shape of a napa cabbage (i.e., elongated rather than round like cabbage or flowery like fresh lettuce), with tightly bunched leaves the approximate texture of butter lettuce, but a bit thinner. Do you know what it might be?

The next question is how to cook it. It is bitter! And unlike other bitter greens than mellow a little with cooking, this one keeps its bitterness and moves it through the rest of the dish. I've tried it in a quick saute with garlic and cherry tomatoes, over pasta. Also sauteed and mixed into a quinoa pilaf with a few other ingredients aimed at providing a sweet counterpoint (sauteed shallots and zuchini). No luck. Just bitter bitter bitter.

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  1. Is it endive (photo attached)? If so, you can find a million recipes by googling the name. I like it simply braised.

    2 Replies
    1. re: alanbarnes

      Not endive - I love endive. My lettuce is not pointy on top, and is about 3-4 times the size of a traditional belgian endive. I'd say it was a good foot 14 inches long.

      1. re: sasha1

        Maybe sugarloaf, then?

        But it shouldn't be so bitter. A little bit, yes, but not so bad that it permeates an entire dish. I'd be tempted to cut my losses.

    2. Could it be Chicory Blonde Milanese? Here's a site that has a picture of this Italian vegetable and several other green radicchio varieties...Scroll down to about the middle of the page...

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        This is it! Must be chicory blonde minanese aka sugarloaf because alan's picture looks dead on too.

        So it is quite bitter. One option is to toss it. If I tried to cook with it, what's a good preparation?

        It's not puntarelle - the leaves are too skinny/serrated. Mine look like regular, rounded but long lettuce leaves.

        1. re: sasha1


          Basically I use radicchio chopped in a salad. However I have grilled it on the Weber but also on an indoor grill pan...Slice lengthwise into halves or quarters and drizzle EVOO over. Grilling brings out the sweetness of the vegetable.

          Here's a site with some serving suggestions.

          I have not tried them all but I do sometimes serve Balsamic vinegar with the grilled pieces. I hope this helps you!
          Personally, I like the bitter and peppery flavor of this versitile vegetable.

          I use the red varieties because the green varieties are not easy to find in all markets... you were lucky!

      2. Sounds a little like the Roman chicory, puntarelle, though I find its texture somewhat tougher than butter lettuce's.

        The classic Roman prep is as a salad with a garlic and anchovy dressing. Google the name for recipes or look in Hazan's *Marcella Cucina*.