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Workshop Reminder

Sat. May 7, 2 PM in the Ryan Center
From garden to gift (Bath salts etc.) – presenter Anne Gaudet
Use what you grow in your garden to make bath salts, scented soaps and oils, Make a gift basket in time for mother’s day. You must pre-register for this workshop. Space limited to first 15 people. Contact fbgapres@optonline.net to reserve a spot.

Feature Article

Chicory: Beautiful, Delicious, Easy (Taken from the Spring 2016 newsletter)
Frank Gentile
A prized leafy green in Italian kitchens is the Cicoria or Chicory, which is in the same family as endives, radicchio, and escarole. Chicory leaves are mistakenly called dandelion greens in stores in the U.S., but they are not true dandelion leaves. One major difference between wild dandelions and cultivated chicory is that dandelions produce yellow flowers, whereas chicory produces beautiful blue flowers.

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There are many varieties grown for the slightly the milder shoots they produce when bolting to flower. These shoots are tender and can be eaten raw in salads; dressing is as simple as can be – a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Lightly blanched, they turn super tender, sweeter, and can be combined with spaghetti, garlic and oil. Or, use in place of noodles in beef or chicken broth.

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Not all varieties produce the plump shoots; some varieties grow very thin and tall. Varieties that produce the succulent shoots are Galantina, Catalogna, and Puntarelle. Recently, I’ve heard Puntarelle mentioned on several cooking shows – I hope this is an indication that we will develop a taste for these in the U.S. It is believed that chicory helps detoxify the blood and is beneficial for the kidneys and liver.

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You can grow a few plants to include in salads, or plant more to provide enough to boil. Harvesting from spring through autumn is simple: either continuously cut the outermost leaves (letting the center leaves continue to grow) or you can cut all the leaves at once at the soil line (but leave the roots in the soil to continue to produce.) I prefer selective harvesting of the outside leaves – new leaves will be produced more quickly. The remaining roots are not as aggressive as wild dandelions.
Chicory is a biennial: you just get leaves the first year, and then leaves, shoots, flowers, and seeds the
second year. The key to producing the shoots is to let the plant overwinter. It’s amazing how resilient
chicory is, even through the harshest winters. In spring you’ll be rewarded with shoots that you can cut all they way down to the soil line.

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