JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Chicory - a salad for the end of winter

I've just got back from a week of travelling, and really needed to eat some serious vegetables. So I bought a basket full of different flavours and colours, lots and lots: I'm unaccustomed to choice, as normally the vegetables just arrive on a Tuesday morning, courtesy of the Riverford box scheme. Even better, I could please myself for the day, because the rest of the family don't get back from their travels until tomorrow.

And so for lunch, I made a salad of chicory and a blood orange, that fabulous winter reminder from Sicily that the sun will shine again. It was a favourite when I was a child, in the days before you could have everything you wanted when you wanted it: you couldn't get summer vegetables in the winter, because there was no air freight. So you ate what there was, and in the winter there was chicory, and the lovely treat of citrus fruit (which had come by ship from hotter parts of Europe or perhaps north Africa). Even so, it was a treat - everyday winter vegetables were cabbages and roots, the staples of northern European cookery.

Chicory and orange works well as a salad because of the contrast of the bitterness with the sweet orange - although it's fair to say that chicory is not as bitter as it once was (which gives me hope that my children might like it as much as I always have). I made the dressing with the juice which dripped profusely from the orange, mixed with black pepper and olive oil. Wonderful.

And this is my entry for weekend herb blogging, hosted this week by Kalyn, South Beach dieter extraordinaire.


Kalyn Denny said...

Ooh, this does sound interesting. I haven't had chicory, except in coffee in New Orleans, which they're quite famous for. I'm not honestly sure it's the same plant, but I think it is?

Clare said...

Hi Joanna. My mother often made chicory and orange salad but she used to add watercress too.

Joanna said...

Hi Kalyn ...I think it's the same plant, but I think that what's put in coffee is the ground up root. I haven't had chicory in coffee since I was a child, and we used to make milky coffee with some sticky dark liquid out of a bottle called Camp Coffee.

Hi Clare - do you know, my mother sometimes put watercress into it too ... I'll try that again just as soon as the watercress in the supermarket is from the UK, rather than flown in from the USA (it's been like that all winter - there are famous watercress beds just a few villages away from here - we live in a completely mad world).