What's that vegetable? Chicory, perfect with pasta

Chicory is a nutritional powerhouse, and is great for grilling.
Chicory is a nutritional powerhouse, and is great for grilling.Michelle Hainer / Today

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By Michelle Hainer
Yummy! Try orecchiette with chicory and Andouille chicken sausage.Michelle Hainer / Today

Before last weekend, I thought chicory was something that New Orleans natives added to their coffee. And while that is true (the chicory root is often used in java drinks), the leaves of the chicory plant are edible as well. I recently picked up a bag of chicory at the farmers market and was told that it has a similar flavor to broccoli rabe and that it’s hearty enough to withstand the heat of the grill! While chicory is great on its own, with a little olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper, it’s also a welcome addition to pasta. Since one of my favorite pasta pairings is broccoli rabe and sausage, I knew what I would do with this bunch.

Chicory is a nutritional powerhouse, and is great for grilling.Michelle Hainer / Today

Chicory, which is sometimes called curly endive, is a nutritional powerhouse on a plate. It’s a great source of vitamins A, C , E and K and is loaded with carotenoids, which help maintain eye health. It can be eaten raw in a salad, but it does have a slightly bitter taste, so cooking the greens and adding olive oil and lemon juice helps combat some of the bitterness. You can blanch and then sauté chicory, but I preferred the grilling method, which required much less prep. Orecchiette pasta and Andouille sausage were perfect complements. This pasta dish was so easy and delicious, I am making it a regular part of our dinner rotation!

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Orecchiette with chicory and Andouille chicken sausage

  • 1 pound orecchiette pasta
  • 1 head of chicory leaves, halved length wise and washed
  • 4 Andouille sausages (I like the pre-cooked Andouille chicken version from Trader Joe’s. Great on the grill!)
  • Juice from ½ a lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. The longer the chicory leaves are, the easier they’ll be to grill, so carefully halve the head length wise, and gently trim the edges. Wash the leaves, discarding any yellowed ones, and pat dry. Brush the leaves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. When the grill is hot, turn off one of the burners and cook the chicory over indirect heat, turning once or twice, about 4-5 minutes on each side or until tender. Grill the sausage while the chicory is cooking. Remove everything from the grill, chop the chicory into bite size pieces, slice the sausage diagonally and add to a bowl with the cooked pasta. Toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Serve warm with crusty bread.

Get more tips and recipes for seasonal eats at Made By Michelle.

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