Welcome to another edition of What's Cooking Wednesday!
Today's dish is chicory and beans. And for those of you who don't like beans, I apologize in advance. I'm also sorry for those who have never tried chicory, because it is divine. Note that we eat this as a somewhat light supper, so there's never an accompanying meat or other vegetable for us.
Many people know that chicory has been used in place of coffee, so maybe that doesn't exactly make it sound inviting as a vegetable. Oh, but it is. Especially the wild kind, which is harvested throughout the winter down here. Think escarole and endive, and you're on your way to understanding how chicory can be used. So, on that note, if you don't have chicory, you can substitute members of the chicory family.
Chicory and Beans
I use cannellini beans, and I'm not going to lie to you, P's mom usually does the dirty work here. I could if pressed, but to steer you on your way, I've found a good page that describes the soaking and cooking process. Otherwise, just buy some cans of the beans ready to add to the chicory once it's cooked--this works too.
For this recipe, you'll need about two to three cans of beans for one fist-sized bunch of fresh chicory. I know the measurements aren't exact, but basically get enough for how ever many people you're making the dish for, and you'll be fine.
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic
1 medium-sized peperoncino (hot pepper)
Salt to taste
Clean the chicory and place in boiling, salted water. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside while you heat up olive oil (you need to be generous here, as this is mainly where the greens pick up flavor) on medium heat.
Add the garlic and peperoncino and after about two minutes, add the chicory and some salt. Stir well and let this cook for about 10-15 minutes, or until the oil has been mostly absorbed.
At this point, add the beans, mixing them in well with the chicory. Also add some more salt here. Let this mixture cook for another 15-20 minutes, and taste test for salt level as you may need to add more. I'm not a big salt eater, but this dish seems to require quite a bit to get the maximum flavor.
Serve the dish hot with fresh oil drizzled on top. Crusty Italian bread is a must.