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Market Watch: Chicories are the New Kale

Puntarelle at Dirty Girl Produce

Kale has gotten a lot of attention in the past couple of years, and though I was partial to this leafy stalwart long before the recent craze, this winter is all about the chicories for me. From the speckled leaves of radicchio di Castelfranco to the pale, curly-leaved escarole, what’s not to love? Each variety of chicory you’ll find at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market lends itself to a wide array of preparations.

Chefs have long been under the spell of the chicory—particularly in the winter, when the cooler temperatures help chicories reach their peak of flavor. You’ll find them on the menu at Nopa prepared as a salad with blue cheese, sweet Asian pears and crispy sunchokes. At Perbacco, Chef Staffan Terje serves them charred alongside a slow-braised pork shoulder.

Puntarelle is one of the more unusual-looking chicory varieties, with its long spindly fronds that curl up when soaked in cold water. Traditionally, it is used in Roman-style salads, paired with lemony, anchovy-based dressings. At Locanda, Chef Anthony Strong is serving Puntarelle with avocados, pistachios and a buttermilk dressing that compliments its bitterness beautifully. He’s also featuring Puntarelle in a dish with grilled cuttlefish and briny Gaeta olives.

With so many varieties to choose from and an array of bitterness and flavor and versatility, the chicory is the perfect winter crop. Find a great selection of recipes for using radicchio and other chicory varieties from some of our favorite chefs like Joyce Goldstein on the CUESA website. Then pick up chicories from the market at Marin Roots Farm, County Line Harvest, Dirty Girl Produce and Everything Under the Sun Farm.

For market updates and seasonal tips follow Lulu Meyer @farmersmarketlu or check out @CUESA on Twitter.