Cicoria alla Romana (Dandelion Greens)
Every time I think of Cicoria (Dandelion Greens), I think of Italy. How can I not? Only God knows how much Cicoria I have eaten in Rome, Italy, particularly, at Sora Pia, an Italian Restaurant on Via Aurelia, one of my favorites. It's hard to believe there is a family restaurant in Rome, where the food is actually fresh and consistently delicious and has been for as long as I can remember. It's been around since the 1890's. For years, it was as if the plate of Cicoria was waiting for me (At least I like to think so), upon my entrance. That serving plate of Cicoria would be staring at me right back, along with the fresh fish waiting in a water and ice bath, as the owner, Allesandro Villani, sported a smile as big as Texas across his face. May I bring you your usual Signora ? (Vuole il Solito Signora)? A glass or two of Blange' (Bianco delle Langhe), along with a wonderful story, seemed to come to my table in a hurry. What's fresh today? (Cosa c'e' di fresco Oggi)? Today, its Spigola (Sea Bass), locally caught by a member of the family. I won't even begin to tell you how many Artichokes I have eaten in this establishment always fried to perfection. That is another post (Carciofi alla Giudea). Hard to believe right? If you have a chance from City center, it's just a few miles away. Stop in and enjoy.
Here is the the only recipe for Dandelion greens, I think in existence, at least for me. Brings back memories of watching it being done in the kitchen at this restaurant, where I learned how to properly hold my wooden spoon in my hand. Yes, even me!
The thing about Dandelion Greens is that it can accompany anything. Stand alone in a plate with crusty bread for a light lunch, or accompany a piece of fish or Beef. You should never pass it up. The Italians cook their vegetables simply in a saute pan with garlic and olive oil. In Minutes it's ready. Be sure and wait until it sticks to the pan just a little. Hope you pick some up at local Vegetable Stand today. Not to worry, if you don't, that is more for me! If you find yourself wandering about in Italy, looking for a fabulous place for Dinner, be sure and call ahead. It's covered up in Romans. Typical, fabulous Roman food is worth the wait and a beautiful pressed tablecloth too.
Trattoria/Ristorante Sora Pia
Via Aurelia No 426
Tel: 06 662 6112
One large skillet
One pasta pot with one quart of water heated to a rolling boil/ with one tablespoon salt
One pound Cicoria/ dark ends removed and cleaned to remove any dirt
5 cloves of garlic/ mashed ( for easy removal after cooking)
4-5 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of salt to taste
Red pepper to taste
Method: Blanch your Cicoria in boiling water. Make sure the water is back up to a rolling boil and all your vegetables are submerged. After a few minutes, remove your cicora and set aside. Don't worry if a little liquid is in the plate, this will evaporate in the saute pan.
Heat your oil in your skillet to medium, add your garlic and saute until fragrant, being careful not to burn. When you can smell the garlic, add your hot pepper and quickly add your Cicoria and about a cup of the cooking liquid. Turn your heat up and let cook being careful to mix. Cut your Cicoria down some with a scissor or knife, while it cooks. Keep cooking for 8-10 minutes until the Cicoria is almost stuck to the pan, wilted and the liquid is almost completely evaporated from the pan. I am hungry! Buon appetito!