This traditional Italian recipe for Sauteed Chicory Greens, makes a simple quick and easy side dish. Cooked Greens sauteed in olive oil, garlic and a sprinkle of salt. The perfect healthy addition to any meal! And so good!
Living in Italy I have discovered so many vegetables that I never imagined I would eat and others that I didn’t even know existed. And naturally I was introduced to them by my Mother-in-law.
- Olive oil
- Hot pepper flakes – optional
What do Chicory Greens Taste like?
Some types can be bitter with a spicy taste, but once it is cooked it does mellow out. Some are tasty without a bitter taste that can be tossed in a salad. I like to mix it with some lettuce and rucola.
What is Chicory?
Chicory in Italian is called cicoria, which can be planted or is picked in the middle of patches of grass. There are many varieties of chicory greens and they are also known as Italian dandelion greens, escarole or curly endive. Radicchio is also considered a type of chicory but is often mistaken for cabbage or lettuce.
You really have to know what you are looking for when you are picking it in the open, because what you think may be chicory might not be, that being said, my mother-in-law has been known to search for cicoria in the pouring rain! Is it worth it? Well, there really is nothing like wild chicory.
Although later in life she just stuck to planting her own!
How to make Sauteed Chicory Greens
Wash leaves in cold water, cut in half (or leave whole), cook either in boiling water (unsalted) until tender but not mushy or steam, drain well.
In medium frying pan add the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper flakes if using, cook 1 minute.
Then add the chicory and salt toss gently until heated through. Serve immediately, with a squeeze of lemon if desired.
Other ingredients that go well with chicory are walnuts, anchovies, blue cheese or even fresh Pecorino cheese.
Are Chicory greens good for you?
Chicory has many health benefits, it is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including zinc, magnesium, calcium, manganese and iron. It is also used for loss of appetite, gut health, an upset stomach, liver and gallbladder problems, cancer and a rapid heartbeat. It can also be used to increase the production of urine and to protect the liver.
How to serve them
Chicory can be sauteed and served as a side dish, or added to a salad or even added to your favorite homemade soup. If you make your own broth you could add some along with the other vegetables. Or once sauteed toss with some pasta and sprinkle with some grated parmesan or pecorino.
Or do as the Italians and use the sauteed greens to make a sandwich, using a crusty Italian bread or bun and add your favorite cheese. It really does make a delicious sandwich!
How to store Chicory Greens
Raw greens should be stored in a plastic bag, they shouldn’t be washed until ready to eat. They will last 4-5 days in the fridge. Cooked greens should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. It will last for up 2 days in the fridge.
How to freeze Chicory
It is best to cook the greens first, drain well, let cool completely then placed in a freezer bag or container. It will keep for up to 1 month in the freezer.
So if you ever come across these amazing greens in your local market or farmer’s market, pick up a bunch and sautee yourself some Chicory Greens. Buon Appetito!
More Italian Side Dishes
- Italian Roasted Zucchini and Potatoes
- Italian Fried Peppers
- Peas and Pancetta
- Simple Italian Green Beans
Italian Sauteed Chicory Greens
- 1 bunch chicory greens (1 pound /500-600 grams)
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼-½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1-2 dashes hot pepper flakes (optional)
- 2-3 slices fresh lemon
- I trim off about ¼-½ inch (1cm) off the stems before washing. Wash the leaves and drain, I like to leave them whole but you can cut them in half if you prefer. Cook the greens in either a large pot of boiling water (unsalted) or steam until tender but not mushy, drain well.
- In medium frying pan add the olive oil, garlic and hot pepper flakes if using, cook 1 minute, then add the chicory and salt toss gently until heated through 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately, with a squeeze of lemon if desired. Enjoy!
Updated from December 15, 2018.
Great! Finally, I can get chicory leaves and this recipe reminds me of my mother’s …love chicory leaves it is healthy and has lots of benefices for my health requirements. I have it in salads, but I would like to cook some y perhaps try to freeze them for later. Would it be acceptable?…thanks for reading, and thanks for the recipe!!!
Hi Elena, thanks so much, your comment made me rewrite the post and add new photos. And yes you can definitely cook and freeze, but sure to let it cool completely and drain well. Then place in a freezer bag or container. It should keep in the freezer for up to a month. Take care!
Kristina Keyzer says
I an addicted to this
Hi Kristina, I know it’s so good, delicious in a sandwich with some Italian cheese! Have a great weekend.
jeanne Nielsen says
I am currently living in Italy and have eaten ‘chicoria ripassata’ many times and loved it each and every time. Now I have twice purchased fresh chickory greens from my local farm market and have twice prepared it and thrown it away as it was too bitter to eat. HELP!!!
Hi Jeanne, there are a few ways you can do it, 1. Wash the chicory well and soak it for a couple of hours in cold water and ice before boiling it. Squeeze it very well before boiling it. 2- Wash the chicory then immerse it for a couple of hours in cold water and ice and then boil it, adding 2-3 potatoes while boiling (the potatoes will absorb the bitterness of the chicory). When cooked, drain everything and squeeze the chicory well to completely eliminate the cooking liquid. 3. Boil the chicory, drain it and immerse it for 20 minutes in cold water and lemon, then squeeze it well to remove all the liquid. 4- Boil the chicory with a teaspoon of bicarbonate added to the water, then drain and squeeze it very well to completely eliminate the cooking liquid. I hope one of these help with the bitterness. Let me know.
Lucile Stachowiak says
Good Morning Rosemary:
Reading over your recipes came across the for chicory. Brings back memories when I was a kid back in Buffalo New York. My father used to go and pick the dandelions, bring them home my mother used to rinse them off in cold water. The young ones she made into a salad, the older ones sauted them just like your recipe, good piece of italian bread wonderful sandwich. People don’t know what they’re mssing.
Hi Lucile, exactly, people don’t know, one of the most delicious things to eat. And yes a tasty sandwich too!
Ari Glo says
I’m an American woman living in Argentina and I really connect with you…living in Italy. Thanks for your blog. I enjoy it and look forward to it.
Hi Ari, thanks so much, so glad you enjoy the blog. All the best to you.
As a child, I used to hate chicory! Now as an adult, I love it. It reminds me of my parents garden, dinners with cicoria con penne, crusty bread and wine (served in small tumblers over course!).
Hi Rob, it’s funny how something we used to hate and now brings back great memories, chicory is such a versatile veg. Take care.
Is this Cichorium intybus? I would like to find the plant and identify it. Thanks!
Hi Cheryl this is what is called cicory puntarelle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puntarelle. Hope that helps.
Bill Maltsberger says
I have a LOT of wild chicory, Cichorium intybus, in my garden in Sacramento, CA. I love it and want recipes and growth tips. It is wild and robust during the wet winter season.
In Puglia, Italy, it is paired with fava beans made soft by pre-cookin it.
Check out recipe. It is wonderful
quant’è bbona la cicoria!!!!
Puoi dirlo forte, Mar! 🙂
Thanks Katherine, I will do that. have a great weekend!
Katherines Corner says
this is wonderful. I hope you shared it at the hop today. Hugs!