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Chicory (cicoria or cicorione) is a vegetable that invites confusion in Italian as well as English.

The rather bitter leaves of Common chicory, or Cichorium intybus, were once an Italian staple, and you'll still find recipes from Liguria, Campania and Basilicata, serving it with pasta, or puréed fava beans (fave e cicorie), or sausage, such as annoglia. In the Molise, martuoffolo is (usually) chicory and potatoes, served with sausage for a traditional meal at the grape harvest.

Lazio has a special variety, the cicoria catalogna. Its sprouts, or puntarelle, are a favourite salad green.

Grumolo verde is a hearty rustic green chicory that grows in the shape of a green rosettes.

Cultivated chicory: this includes Cicoria variegata, another name for radicchio, or red chicory or Cicoria belga or di Bruxelles is the 'official' name for Belgian endives or witloof chicory, which is common chicory grown underground or in unlit places to prevent the buds from turning green and opening.

Root chicory (Cichorium intybus var. sativum) is native to Italy. It is mainly cultivated as a coffee substitute.

As in other countries the same word is often used for the closely related indivia: endive.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: dpotera