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Chicory, Cicoria Catalogna Pugliese

Cicoria Catalogna Pugliese. Early. Good sized upright rustic plant. Dark green, long, serrated, bunched leaves with white ribs.

Catalogna  has dense toothlike and architectural leaves that envelop white stems growing erectly from their connected base. Catalogna di Galatina's coloring is true of many types of chicory, vivid deep green contrasting with snow white ribs throughout its leaves and stems. The texture is succulent and the flavor, unforgettably bitter, an acquired and appreciated taste that mellows with a simple water bath or cooking. The young leaves also will have a milderflavor than that of more mature Catalogna plants.

Similar to other chicories CatalognaPugliese can be prepared both raw and cooked. It works well gently braised or sautéed with a light seasoning of garlic and olive oil. It can also be roasted or grilled. Traditional preparation calls for a soak  in ice cold water for thirty minutes. While soaking the greens bitter flavor will mellow. Complimentary pairings include olives, bacon, citrus juice, cream based dressings, anchovies, forest mushrooms, gorgonzola or ripening cheeses, garlic, chili oil and balsamic vinegar. To store, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one to two weeks.

 Puntarelle varieties of chicory are sweet and delicate and described in glowing terms in Antonio Carluccio’s book Vegetables” where he recommends that they be blanched in boiling water and then drizzled with olive oil and flavoured with lemon juice or garlic and chilli. When young can be used in salads and in Italy are commonly given a soak in iced water.   It grows back quickly after a cutting. Enjoy it braised by itself with garlic and olive oil, and also as a substitute for dandelion greens in pasta dishes.

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