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Produce Express

Market Outlook - December 8, 2011

Mixed Chicories

mixed-chicoriesThis week we are offering several varieties of chicories from J. Marchini Farms, located in Le Grand, Ca. (Merced County). Chicories are a closely related group of leafy vegetables that exhibit a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and textures and all have in common a particular flavor best described as wild bitterness ranging from mild to strong depending on the individual variety. The most commonly recognized member of the group is Radicchio di Chioggia-closed and rounded like a cabbage, bright purple in color with white veins with the bitter flavor somewhat pronounced. Other varieties include Belgian Endive, Escarole, Frisee and the lesser known varieties that we offer this week including Dino Kale, Radicchio de Treviso, Castelfranco and Puntarelle. Though several are available year round, they were originally cool weather crops that peak seasonally in early winter. The varieties are offered individually as well as combined for a Mixed Chicory, which might be the best way to become familiar with all of them.

  • Radicchio(di Chioggia)-As mentioned, the most familiar of the chicory family to the point where it is a component of the lettuces and greens known as ‘Spring Mix.’ Sturdy enough for grilling and pairs well with seasonal citrus at this time of year. 12 count case-$15.75/available by the piece.
  • Radicchio di Treviso-Treviso has the strongest flavor of all the radicchio varieties. Wine red with narrow, white ribbed closed and elongated leaves. Excellent grilled or as an accompaniment to cheeses and tangy vinaigrettes. 10-12 count case (depending on size)-$19.75.
  • Dino Kale-The chicory of many names including Tuscan Cabbage, Lacinato Kale and Cavolo Nero-all being the same plant. A staple in Italian country kitchens and a kale rather than a cabbage with medium to large dark green leaves bunched together. Great braised as a side dish and for use in hearty soups and stews. 12 count case-$15.75.
  • Castelfranco-A seasonal variety with the mildest flavor of all the chicories. Individual heads with attractive purple red flecked, creamy white leaves. Excellent for use in salads, creamy soups and risottos.  12 count case-$23.75.
  • Puntarelle-Unusual looking chicory with long tapered and jagged leaves, blending the spiciness of arugula with the sweetness of fennel. Good with anchovies, lemons and capers. 8 count case-$23.75.
  • Mixed Chicories-An assortment of all of the above, 2 heads each. Great colors, flavors and textures.10 count case-$19.75.