At the local green grocer store you can find the chicory and endive together in the leafy green vegetable section, on display amongst the beetroots, lettuce, English spinach, rocket and mix salads etc.
Like many, you may have walked pass these strange looking vegetables and not think twice about its existence.
The leafy chicory variety has long stems with large razor like leaves. It has many medicinal values and is known to relieve ailments related to upset stomach, constipation, liver and gallbladder disorders, cancer and high blood pressure.
Chicory are used in Italian, Greek and Turkish cuisines. Some preparations are required to reduce the bitterness before it is used in cooking.
The curly endive variety has narrow curly leaves and is part of the chicory family (bitter leafy greens). Endive are rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A and K, high in folate and fibre.
The endive leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.
Mum's Chicory and Endive Tuna Salad Recipe
My family has been in the green grocer business for over a decade and through our wonderful loyal customers, they teach us how to cook their traditional foods.
Mum's Greek customer taught her how to cook with chicory and endive and over the years, she added her own personality into the dish and created her own recipe.
Note: bitterness is an acquired taste. However, the cooking process does remove most of the bitter taste and it is rather palatable.
1 x bunch chicory
1 x endive
3 x garlic cloves (minced)
2 x bullet chillis (thinly sliced)
2 x medium lemons
1 x 250g can tuna in oil (I like the Sarena brand)
2 x tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
a dash of fish sauce (optional)
a sprinkle of sugar (optional)
1. Put to boil a large pot of water, add a teaspoon of salt.
2. Wash and clean chicory thoroughly as there is dirt residue on the stems (remove first outer layer of the stems - they are tough and chewy) and cut into 7cm lengths.
3. Wash and clean endive thoroughly and cut into 7cm lengths.
4. Once the water is boiled, first add the chicory stems. Let it cook for 15 minutes, reduce heat to medium then add the chicory leaves and cook together for another 15 minutes.
As it starts to wilt, the green colour of the stems and leaves will turn a light yellow brown colour. If undercooked the chicory will be too chewy and uneatable. To test if it is cooked thoroughly, take out a piece of the stem and rub it with your fingers, the fibres should mush together and fall apart.
5. Once the chicory is cooked, with a strainer ladle scoop up the leaves and strain under cold running water.
6. Add endive to the remaining hot boiling water in the pot and cook for 15 minutes, until it is wilted and soft. Strain the leaves under cold running water.
7. To remove the bitterness, take a handful of the cooked greens and squeeze out the excess water and place into a salad bowl.
8. Add to the squeezed greens, garlic, chilli, olive oil, tuna (with the oil content), 3/4 of the lemon juice, salt and pepper, a dash of fish sauce. With your hands mix it all together, rubbing and massaging the flavours into the greens. If required and it is to your own individual taste buds more lemon juice, salt & pepper or even a little sugar.