Cook in the Moment: Grilled Chicories

Grilled Endive, Frisée, and Radicchio with Bagna Cauda (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

My husband and I moved to Colorado four years ago from Memphis, Tennessee. Though we came from a region known for its barbecue, I discovered the joy of cooking over open flames in Boulder. Growing up in the oppressive heat and humidity of Arkansas, going outside meant getting eaten alive by mosquitos. Arriving in Boulder, Colorado, I was intoxicated by breathing the fresh, dry air, and the feel of brisk breezes coming off the Rocky Mountains. I felt lighter, and the stunning snow-capped mountain views seduced me, constantly calling me outside. At altitude, the sun shines more intensely, and even on a 30 degree winter’s day, if there is sunlight on your shoulders you’ll be warmed through. Our fourth floor apartment faces open fields where bald eagles nest and coyotes roam, horses gallop around the pond and cows ruminate. This time of year, as winter becomes spring, you can find us on the balcony with a glass of wine and our little Weber grill lit, a trail of savory smoke drifting above our heads. Cooking on the grill is easy, it’s casual, and to me, it’s the essence of Colorado living. As the days grow longer, I begin to pine for patio time, the simplicity of summer cooking, and a slower pace of life. On a warm March day, the husband uncovers our grill and I open a bottle of wine. Tomorrow might bring a foot of snow, but today feels like spring, and we intend to savor this moment.

Chicories like Belgian endive, frisée, and radicchio are sturdy enough to handle the heat of the grill. The leaves soften and a light char brings out the sweet side of these bitter vegetables. I discovered this technique in Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables, and her instructions are more of a technique than an actual recipe. Simply cut the chicories into manageable pieces (halves or fourths), dip them in a bowl of water to prevent burning on the grill, and baste with a mixture of olive oil flavored with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Place the pieces of chicory on a medium-hot grill, turning and basting every few minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature with your favorite sauce. Grilling the chicories only takes about 10 minutes.

I like the idea of grilled chicory as a rustic appetizer, served on a platter or cutting board with a big bowl of vinaigrette or blue cheese dressing. Bagna cauda is a warm Italian sauce made with olive oil, melted butter, garlic, and anchovies. I added lemon zest to Mario Batali’s recipe in Molto Gusto, and the briny, rich, pungent dip complimented the bittersweet smokey flavor of the grilled chicory. Here’s to warmer days and patio time!

Radicchio, Belgian Endive, and Frisée (c)2012

For more on grilling chicory, check out my weekly article at Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder. I’ve got tips plus ideas for serving grilled radicchio other than as a rustic appetizer. To see the article, click on the icon below.

Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder

12 Comments

  1. I was intrigued by your ‘chicory’ topic for the week. The only thing I know about it is that it makes the ‘Cafe du Monde’ coffee so delicious. I’ve often wondered what exactly is chicory. I love your description of Colorado. It sounds like such a beautiful place!

    Reply
    • From what I understand, the roots of chicory are roasted and ground to flavor ‘Cafe du Monde.’ I love chicory coffee too. You ought to come out to Colorado on your next getaway with the husband, you would love the beauty of the mountains!

      Reply
      • sorry to double comment, but i just read this.. :) here i was thinking, “it sounds so familiar, but i don’t think i’ve ever had chicory” but yes, that’s where i’ve had it, cafe du monde coffee! trader joe’s sells a pretty decent version of that, by the way. :)

        Reply
        • Irene,
          I will look for that at Trader Joe’s, they are opening a store in Boulder this year!

          Reply
  2. Sounds like you’re living the life in Colorado! We love grilling and we use our charcoal Weber grill all summer long. Like you, we enjoy sipping wine or cocktails on our porch as we grill. I love the idea of this rustic appetizer!

    Reply
    • I can’t wait for summer, Nicole! We’re moving this month and haven’t found a new place yet, but I hope it has a nice patio. :)

      Reply
    • Thank you Irene!

      Reply
  3. Oh my god. That sounds so idyllic. The one thing we miss most about Sydney was our little patio with two grills on it (one a japanese fire cauldron, the other a standard grill). But reading this, I’m also kicking myself that when we drove through Colorado two years ago we didn’t make it up to Boulder. One day we’ll have to make it back.

    Reply
    • Tori,
      I need to check out this Japanese fire cauldron, sounds interesting. If you ever make it out to Colorado again, I’ll happily take you out for happy hour on one of the many restaurant patios!

      Reply
  4. Grilled radicchio is one of my favorite summer treats. I also use the CPV technique-so good. Good luck with finding a new place and on the move…

    Reply
    • Thanks for the well-wishes regarding our move, Nikki! Finding a new place is always challenging, but so exciting!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>