Ricotta and Herb Stuffed Chicory in an Italian Tomato Sauce

Chicory makes an excellent meal when stuffed with scrumptious filling and braised in rich plum tomatoes. I like to serve it with a slices of fresh Italian bread such as ciabatti and focaccia to mop all the delicious sauce. Of course it also makes a great accompaniment to veal and chicken dishes or serve as part of a buffet. For a vegetarian version of this dish simply skip wrapping the chicory in parma or wrap in large spinach leaves blanched briefly in hot water.

Portions: 4 portions

Preparation: 20 minutes

Cooking: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Ingredients

Chicory

  • 12 small to medium chicory heads, base trimmed
  • 50g butter
  • 150ml water
  • maldon salt

Farce

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 tbsp fresh mixed herbs eg. basil, mint, chives, sage, oregano etc., finely chopped
  • 75g grated parmesan
  • 250g ricotta
  • pinch paprika
  • maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Wrap

  • 12 slices of parma ham
  • 12 sage leaves

Italian Tomato Sauce

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1 can chopped plum tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp basil leaves shredded
  • maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Cook

  • 75g gouda, grated
  • 50g parmesan, grated

Method

  1. Chicory: Preheat an oven to 180°C. Place the chicory in a greased oven proof container, add the water and a little salt. Cover the chicory with greased foil and place it on the centre shelf in the oven. Cook the chicory for 20 minutes then remove it from the oven and cooking vessel and allow them to cool.
  2. Farce: Mix all the farce ingredients together in a bowl so that they are well combined.
  3. To Stuff: Slice the cooled chicory in half. Coat 1 half of each chicory with 1-2 tbsp of the farce (dependent on size). Place the other half of the chicory over the filled side so that the farce is sealed in. Place a sage leave on each slice of parma ham and wrap each of the stuffed chicory. Set aside until ready to cook.
  4. Italian Tomato Sauce: Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan and place over a moderate heat. Saute the onions in the oil until transparent then add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes (stirring regularly). Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.
  5. To Cook: Preheat an oven to 180°C. Place the stuffed chicory in a gratin container or a similar ovenproof container. The chicory should fit snugly. Pour the Italian tomato sauce over the chicory and scatter over the grated gouda and parmesan. Place pinches of the butter over the gratin and place it on the centre shelf of the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes. The cheese should be melted and lightly golden when ready. Serve hot.