Umbria Wild Chicory: a Coronavirus Antidote
(*Today’s blog note is a gift to my brother, Tom Robichaud, celebrating his birthday today in Madison, Wisconsin. Alone. We’re there with you, Tom. In spirit).
Wild chicory as a coronavirus antidote?
Well, let’s just say that on a warm, sunny day, roaming the glorious Umbria hills picking wild chicory is guaranteed to ward off any CPA (Cornavirus Panic Attack).
On a recent morning, Pino headed up from our house to feed his beloved two donkeys (and a few goats in the same pen)….
…and I stopped in the nearby field to forage for wild chicory and other field greens:
I cleaned the sprigs of field greens right on the field as I picked, eliminating the roots and plucking out any invasive blades of grass:
When my basket was full, I headed back to our farmhouse….
….ready to rinse the greens before boiling.
In the kitchen, I put a large pot of water onto boil for the cooking of the greens,….
….then emptied the basket onto our dining room table, spreading the field greens out…..
…..so as to give them a final perusal before cooking.
Nearby was the large plastic blue basin I’d use for the thorough washing of the greens:
Where necessary, I cut off the base of the chicory sprigs near the roots…..
….then dropped the cleaned sprigs into the blue basin for washing:
When sure all the field greens were as clean as possible, I rinsed them in that large basin, filling it with cold water.
Farm friends, Chiarina and Mandina, had taught me years ago the best spots for the foraging of wild chicory – and how to clean the greens, rinsing at least three times in ample cold water (until no specks of earth visible in the water on the final rinse):
I collected three buckets of water from my chicory-rinsing. (The flowers will be grateful: we conserve all water from rinsing vegetables, etc for watering our outdoor plants)
When the water was at boiling point, I added sale grosso (coarse salt – always used in cooking here in Italy), q.b. (“quanto basta or “as much as it takes”) – about a handful. I then slid in the now-clean field greens:
N.B. If just steamed in a small amount of water, field greens are very bitter, although “fanno bene al fegato” – “they’re good for the liver,” our rural friends will tell you. A health-conscious Assisi friend actually drinks that bitter cooking water when she cooks chicory and other field greens, “per purificare il fegato.”
(Pino and I would rather stay “liver-healthy” by enjoying just the steamed wild chicory (sautéed with diced garlic), not its cooking water).
As the chicory was cooking (for just a few minutes) in the salted boiling water, I peeled and then diced a couple garlic cloves:
I drained the cooked greens as soon as a leaf would detach from the sprig – and the greens were still a bright green:
I’d covered the bottom of a frying pan with our olive oil – and then slid in the cooked greens:
Stirring in gently the diced garlic, I warmed the greens just a bit:
Main dish for our dinner?
Our chickens’ eggs, hardboiled, sprinkled with salt and pepper, drizzled with our olive and lemon juice, Sicily mountain oregano on top:
Sautéed wild chicory as our vegetable:
A coronavirus lockdown simple feast.
Read about a tasty Pino recipe as a coronavirus distraction
Read about Assisi acquaintances now producing protective masks, rather than high-end cashmere.
Read here about a snowy day in Umbria during our coronavirus lockdown
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Click here for another easy recipe to ward off CPA
Click here for a recipe of Pino’s mamma, Signora Vincenza (also helps ward off CPA)
Click here for another “coronavirus lockdown” recipe
Read here about an outdoor market visit to ward off a CPA (Coronavirus Panic Attack)
Click here to read about Novella’s vegetable stand during the coronavirus lockdown
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Read about – and see! – Assisi during coronavirus lockdown
Read about a Pino feast on March 8th as coronavirus distraction
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