Frisee. Just the name gives you a clue that it’s a little fancier, a little frillier than your standard winter green like collards or mustard. Frisee is a member of the chicory family, a small endive with deeply cut pale green leaves. While growing it forms a frilly mass with tender blanched leaves at its heart.
Nicolas Donck of Crystal Organic Farm in Newborn grew up eating frisee in Belgium. “It’s more popular in Europe and I find it’s just now gaining momentum here,” he said. Donck is one of the founders of the Morningside Farmers’ Market and he can be found there most every Saturday morning with baskets and bushels of the week’s bounty.
He says now is the time to sample frisee. “This time of year it has the best flavor. Look for bunches with a nice thick blanched heart. Those pale yellow leaves are the tastiest part,” said Donck.
He finds that frisee is the most popular chicory among his chef clients. At the Morningside market he sells bunches of frisee but also adds young leaves in his endive and salad mixes. That endive mix contains a combination of frisee, escarole and two kinds of radicchio.
The seed catalogs note that frisee needs “an attentive grower.” Donck says that’s because it’s susceptible to diseases. With our humidity it can develop rot that grows aggressively and can cause a farmer to lose his entire crop.
Donck seeded his frisee in late August and early September and is selling that harvest now. A new sowing of seeds in January will yield frisee until March or April.
At home, Donck serves his frisee with a dressing of olive oil and apple cider vinegar, mixed with walnuts or pecans, dulse flakes and chopped raw garlic. He stirs the salad together and lets it sit 10 to 15 minutes before serving alongside a roasted sweet potato.
He also notes that frisee like other chicories and winter greens with a bitter edge have long been used as a tonic. “I’m not a doctor, but I’ve heard that bitter greens like frisee are good to clean out your liver,” he said.
When you bring home your head of frisee, store it in your refrigerator loosely wrapped in a kitchen towel or ventilated plastic bag. It should keep for about 5 days. Rinse just before using.
At local farmers markets
Many local farmers markets have closed for the season. However, the Marietta Square, Decatur and Morningside farmers markets continue all year round.
Vegetables and nuts: arugula, Asian greens, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, cucumbers, dandelion, endive, escarole, fennel, frisee, green onions, herbs, kale, leeks, lettuce, mache, peanuts, popping corn, radicchio, radishes, rutabaga, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips and turnip greens, winter squash
From local reports
Frisee with Maple-Glazed Chicken
Hands on: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes, plus marinating time
This marinade/dressing works particularly well with bitter or slightly bitter greens.
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 minced clove garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 dash cayenne pepper, optional
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (about 1 pound)
1 head frisee
In a small bowl , making marinade by whisking together maple syrup, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, pepper and cayenne, if using.
Arrange chicken thighs in a dish and pour half the marinade over thighs. Let sit at least 30 minutes. If working further ahead, cover and refrigerate up to one day.
Make dressing by mixing remaining marinade with olive oil. Set aside.
When ready to serve, heat grill or grill pan to very hot. Remove thighs from marinade and grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Discard marinade.
While chicken is grilling, arrange frisee on four serving plates. Top frisee with grilled chicken and drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 200 calories (percent of calories from fat, 59), 8 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 13 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 27 milligrams cholesterol, 477 milligrams sodium.