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Coraline chicory is a curly variety that looks like a cross between frisee and endive. The narrow, pale yellow stalks are tightly bound around a central stalk, shaped like a small head of romaine. At the end of the long stalks, the leaves are branched with fringed tips. The texture of Coraline chicory is crisp and the flavor is slightly bitter and nutty with a sweet taste.
Coraline chicory is available year-round.
Coraline chicory, pronounced ‘cora-leen,’ is a brand-new variety of chicory. Coraline chicory is a variety of Cichorium intybus and is related to dandelions, endive and radicchio. Coraline chicory is only grown in one place, California’s Rio Vista. The new variety began production at the end of 2016 and is currently being served in high end restaurants in Sacramento and California’s Bay Area.
Coraline chicory, like other Cichorium species, is high in vitamins C, B and K. It also contains minerals like calcium, iron, zinc and selenium. One head of chicory contains almost 60% of the potassium in one banana. Coraline chicory is also high in complex fiber, which aids in digestion.
Coraline chicory can be used both fresh and cooked. Coraline chicory adds a crisp texture and nutty flavor to mixed green salads. The larger, outer leaves can be used in place of crackers or chips for dips. The smaller inner leaves can be grilled or roasted. The outer leaves of Coraline chicory are more narrow than common endive, though they may also be used as “cups” for piped fillings or small bites. Store Coraline chicory loosely in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to ten days.
Chicory as a leafy vegetable is more well-known and utilized as a salad green in Europe, whereas in the United States, the root is primarily the star. Chicory has been used as a coffee substitute or blended with coffee for at least two centuries. The practice is said to have begun in France during one of Napoleon’s continental supply blockades in 1808. After prosperity returned to France, the practice continued. From there, pairing of chicory and coffee was passed along to French colonies in North America and Australia. In the southern United States, particularly Louisiana, chicory root was used as a coffee substitute during the Civil War and subsequent blockade of the port city of New Orleans.
Coraline chicory was bred and developed over the last 20 years by French seed company, Vilmorin and is grown and distributed by the only commercial endive grower in the United States. The California company is located in the state’s delta region, just east of San Francisco. Growing chicory is a lengthy process, and requires a double-growing period – first developing the root in the earth, then a second growing stage in an enclosed, dark and humid environment. Look for Coraline chicory in restaurants in the United States in 2017.