This Week at the Market
Written by Sam Rogers, Gjelina Group’s Farm Liaison
Though it translates to “white rose,” this chicory is bright pink, and resembles a rose with the many layers of loosely wrapped leaves. The leaves are not as tough as their distant cousin dandelion but not as delicate as castelfranco either, meaning they can be cooked or eaten raw just as well. As with all chicories, a combination of salty + umami + acidity tends to balance out their natural bittersweet flavor. Rosalba, compared to the other chicories, tends to be less bitter and more sweet, and the flavor tends to be a little more floral than earthy. As a bonus, the stems are juicy and tender too! Beyond being delightful to eat, take the time to just gaze at them for a moment and admire their beauty.
ART! Tardivo should translate to “winter masterpiece,” however the variety, known in northern Italy as Fiori d'Inverno, really means "winter flower,” which just barely does it justice. The seed actually has DOP status in Italy. To me, tardivo is the orchid of the chicory world. With their slender piano-player’s-finger leaves, the plant is tender and crunchy at the same time. It’s similar to its more common cousin Treviso, though Tardivo is juicier and sweeter. Tardivo is notoriously hard to grow; the plants don’t naturally want to produce these tender beautiful heads. They are produced using a method called “forcing” (this is a long topic, for another article). There’s never enough, and tardivo is a favorite among chefs, which is why you rarely see it at the market past 8:31 am. Good luck getting your hands on this beauty!
I recently heard someone call castelfranco the “gateway bitter green” which struck me as a perfect introduction. The watercolor-like patterns on each leaf are enough to stop you in your tracks… but then you eat it, and BOOM — you’re hooked. Their creamy white leaves and deep red and pink and green brush strokes are mesmerizing. The flavor is delicately bitter, with sweet undertones.