Photos by 
Jessicarobyn Keyser
Jessicarobyn Keyser

Any Slab of Meat Makes me Crave a Side of These Potatoes With Roadside Chicory (Or Chicory Stand-In)

by 
Daniela Savone
September 3, 2021

Back in the ‘80s, every Tuesday, my nonna would walk into town to buy fresh, thinly pounded beef cutlets from our friendly neighborhood meat market. Vinny the butcher would be waiting for her, have nonna’s cutlets already cut, pounded, wrapped and ready to go.  Along with our weekly beef cutlets,, chicory and potatoes were almost always on the menu as side dish. It was so yummy, though, that my sister and I  never got sick of it.  To this day I still crave my nonna's chicory and potatoes alongside any slab of meat on my plate.

My nonna used to go down the street from our Mamaroneck, NY house and pick chicory off the side of the main road. With her apron tied around her waist, she tucked a few A&P plastic grocery bags into her apron pockets along with a paring knife wrapped in a paper towel. It wasn't uncommon for neighbors to see my nonna walking back home with plastic bags full of freshly picked chicory.

One day on our way back home from the village we stopped off on the side of Mamaroneck Avenue by the 95 Exit ramp to pick some chicory. As my nonna was busy picking dandelion greens,  my older sister Nadia and I went off playing  and within minutes my sister had cut her knee on a piece of broken glass. She had to be rushed to the emergency room and ended up getting 12 stitches. It was the first and only time we didn’t have chicory and potatoes with our beef cutlets for dinner.

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In Italy, cicoria is a big deal and it seems like there isn’t a restaurant that doesn’t include it on their menu. It is a typical dish that comes from la cucina povera, the poor man's kitchen. The beautiful bitter greens are first boiled then sauteed in good quality olive oil, with lots of garlic and chili pepper flakes.

Unfortunately, genuine chicory isn’t quite as easy to come by in the United States, at least in grocery stores. But escarole is a great substitute. We used that here.

You may add anchovies to give it a flavor kick, tomatoes, or even toasted pine nuts. It is mainly eaten as a side in Italy, but people also eat it on top of pizza, with pasta, in a frittata or stuffed in a panino or focaccia.

Roadside Chicory or Escarole Potato Salad

Prep time: 15 minutes
 | 
Cook time: 15 minutes
 | 
Yields 4 as a meal, 6-8 as a side

Ingredients

2 lbs of chicory or escarole 

2 lbs of small to medium Yukon gold potatoes 

4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or smashed

4 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil

A pinch of dried chili flakes 

Salt

Prep time: 15 minutes
 | 
Cook time: 15 minutes
 | 
Yields 4 as a meal, 6-8 as a side

Ingredients

2 lbs of chicory or escarole 

2 lbs of small to medium Yukon gold potatoes 

4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or smashed

4 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil

A pinch of dried chili flakes 

Salt

Ingredients

2 lbs of chicory or escarole 

2 lbs of small to medium Yukon gold potatoes 

4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or smashed

4 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil

A pinch of dried chili flakes 

Salt

Directions

1. Place the potatoes in a large pot with water and bring to a boil. After 15  minutes stick a fork into the center of the largest potato to test and see if they are cooked. Once fork tender, drain in a colander and set the potatoes aside to cool off.  

2. While the potatoes are cooling, clean the chicory (if using) of any wilted or rotten leaves. Wash the chicory or escarole thoroughly. 

3. Bring another large pot of water to a boil. As soon as the water starts boiling add a few pinches of salt and the chicory or escarole, pushing with a spoon to submerge all the leaves into the boiling water. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Drain in a colander and set aside.

4. Peel the skin off the potatoes. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Cut the potatoes into ½ inch wide slices and set aside. 

5. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for a couple of seconds to release the aroma and flavor. Add the chili flakes and quickly stir for 2-3 seconds. 

6. Add the chicory or escarole and the sliced potatoes and stir thoroughly to allow the greens to infuse with the oil and garlic mixture. Adjust with salt to taste and serve.

About the Author

Daniela Savone

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