Endive Frisée is a type of chicory that has exploded onto gourmet plates. The exotic plant resembles a lettuce that has gone horribly awry. With a pale green explosion of frizzy leaves it adds a frisky note to green salads.
Frisée or chicorée frisée is French for curly chicory. It also is sometimes called Italian curly chicory or French curly chicory. Now, frisée is not exactly the same vegetable that comes to market as chicory, curly chicory, and curly endive, although it is exactly the same plant, Cichorium endivia.
Grown in, and named after a municipality in northern Italy near Turin. Suitable for both summer and autumn cultivation, it has curly and strongly lobed leaves and a creamy-white self-blanching heart.
With a very large head, long mid-green leaves and a self-bleaching, creamy-white interior, the fullness of the head facilitates tying up for more intense blanching.
Popularised in the 1990s, Frisée often appears in mesclun and other salad mixes, because the green is extremely laborious and expensive to produce as a sole salad ingredient. It is generally served in loose chunks in salad to highlight its exotic feathered appearance and a small amount can go a long way.
While it can have a slightly bitter flavour, frisée is much milder than other varieties of endive such as radicchio or Belgian endive. Tie up for a week before harvesting to blanch.