Curly endive, the queen of Christmas Eve salad

The leaf green, long that immediately curls capriciously; the heart is white, sometimes golden; the large, luxuriant development. It is the recognizable image of the curly endive, the salad that we have already encountered especially in the smooth version last spring, right on these columns.

But in these weeks so stingy with green satisfactions, curly escarole comes to our aid because it is a vegetable that gives great satisfaction even in winter to the greengrocer, even in our latitudes. Enough in fact an unheated cellophane tunnelto defend it from the most intense frosts, and to guarantee it a smooth growth even in these colder weeks.

This is why we now insert it in the pantry of Seasons on the tableeven knowing that we will also find it in the other months of the year, but, given the lack of alternatives, today it presents itself as a tasty and inviting solution. Also because the Italian regional gastronomic tradition he has chosen it as the protagonist of more than one characteristic dish of this periodin particular for the “skinny” dinner on the joyful Christmas Eve.

THE EXPERT’S OPINION: We already spoke a few months ago, in spring, in these same spaces of various manifestations of the endive, otherwise called escaroleand therefore it will suffice briefly to remember that we are referring to one of the many varieties of chicory. A variety that comes with a typical open rosette-shaped headwhere the bright green leaves leave the small stem and immediately curl and branch off from the center bringing out a golden and more crunchy heart.

The flavor is pleasantly bitterbut it is the health benefits that should be taken into the utmost consideration. In fact, we are talking about a vegetable rich in water and film salts (in particular magnesium and potassium) with a very high positive content of fibers and with a not negligible presence of vitamins. In fact, those of groups A, C and K are present, while it is the content of fats and pure proteins is negligible.

All ingredients that put curly endive at the top of the preferences of the dietician who must recommend low-calorie diets with a strong ability to promote diuresis (therefore the purification of the organism from every toxin), as well as the correct liberation of the intestinestimulated to maximize its natural activity.

In fact, its effectiveness in regulating digestion is decisive, precisely by virtue of the large presence of fibers, while many researches have tested its ability to reduce bad cholesterol in the blood. Its vital contribution can also be particularly useful in pregnancy, as it is significant the preventive effect of cardiovascular diseases.

In short, a panacea, which also has one on its side discrete ability to satisfy the need for nutrition even with few caloriesthat is, if inserted with the right dose in the daily meal, it causes a drastic reduction in the stimulus of hunger, which is one of the most difficult drives to control when you want to follow a low-calorie diet.

RECIPE. Fresh side dish with few equals in this stingy season of the Brescian garden, curly endive can be the absolute protagonist of salads rich in variety not only arboreal, or in combination with apple, pear, walnuts, exhausted summer fruit and with the dressing of a light extra virgin olive oil, Gardesano, and perhaps citrus scented, even with the contribution of hard cheeses and cured meats.

These fresh variations – wisely seasoned with salt and pepper and a “vinaigrette” emulsified with lemon, or with a traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena and Reggio Emilia – are worth a visit. allocate the white and golden heart of the curly endivecrunchy and with a very pleasant freshness to accompany the heavier dishes, typical of this period.

But one of the many added values ​​of this winter vegetable is the possibility of fully exploiting it using with the appropriate warnings also the outermost and often croriaceous turns of the rosette. Is exactly with those outermost leaves, green and hardyou can create a “lean” as well as tasty and gratifying preparation, perfectly suited for example to the Christmas Eve dinner, like the dish we will follow today: the curly endive and blue fish cake.

First take one large pan and “lined” the bottom and edges with a drizzle of oil and a generous sprinkling of pantrito. At this point, place the outer leaves of the curly endive, well washed and plucked, forming a first layer on which you will lay some fresh sardines (or other fresh blue fish) open like a book, well boned and headless.

Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with pantrito e form a second layer of endive and fish fillets; then finish with a new round of oil and pantrito and put in the oven at 190 ° C for 15 minutes, maybe activating the grill function in the last five. And the cake will be ready and very tasty.

In some regional variation, this widespread tradition cake is enriched as well by toasted pine nuts, soaked raisins, pickled olives and capersand each insertion can obviously add pleasure to an already good and rewarding preparation.