If you’ve ever been to Rome, you know that you really can’t move an inch without running into “Cicoria”. That bitter, leafy green is all over the place. It’s on just about every restaurant menu (at least the restaurants where the locals eat), it’s sold in every farmer’s market, and it grows wild in every park and sidewalk crack in the city.
Romans love their Cicoria, and to be honest, I don’t blame them. I think I fell in love with it when we were in Rome making pizza with the famous pizza man, Gabriele Bonci. We made a white pizza, or “pizza bianca” as it’s called in Rome, topped with a chickpea puree, olive oil and sauteed cicoria. It was so simple, but so good. At that moment I was hooked on the cicoria.
Here in America we have dandelion greens which are about as close as you can get to Roman cicoria. If you’re looking for the perfect vegetable side dish or something different to add to your frittata or pizza, this is the recipe for you.
1 bunch of dandelion greens
2 tablespoons of good olive oil
3-4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
½ teaspoon dried Calabrian chili flakes
½ of a lemon
1. Cut about ½ inch off of dandelion green stems
2. Wash dandelion greens in cold water and drain. Sometimes they have some sand on them when they get home from the supermarket, so make sure you clean them good.
3. Place dandelion greens in a pot of well salted water for about 10 minutes. This will take out some of the bitterness and soften the greens.
4. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.
5. When olive oil starts to shimmer, add sliced garlic, Calabrian chili flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the garlic to toast and become fragrant and let the chili flavor the oil.
6. Add dandelion greens and toss in olive oil.
7. Cover and allow to cook for about ten minutes.
8. When the stems of the dandelion greens are tender to the bite, transfer to a plate and give them a squeeze of lemon. Let them come to room temperature (that’s when they taste the best).