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Puntarelle alla Romana is a classic Roman dish, they are shoots from the chicory family called Cicoria Catalogna. They are crunchy and have a bitter flavour. They are cut very thin and seasoned with garlic, anchovies and vinegar.
Where to find Puntarelle
Puntarelle are grown around Rome and in some areas of the South of Italy. Earlier it is was a very localized dish, but now you can find them in many more farmer markets even in the North of Italy.
They are not easy to find here in France, I have to go to the farmer market in Ventimiglia or to a specialized Italian market in the Riviera.
If you cannot find them you can replace them with endives.
I found many more unusual Italian vegetables during my trip to Ventimiglia market and you can watch the video here.
When are Puntarelle in Season
They are usually in season from February till May, but you can now find them as early as October.
When you buy them, make sure they are fresh and that the outside leaves are strong and green.
To make Puntarelle alla Romana salad you will only use the shoots inside the vegetable head. You can use the outside leaves for minestrone or soup.
Cut the shoots very thinly and immerge them in iced water. This bath will make them curl (2), giving the typical curly look of the Puntarelle. Make sure the shoots are long enough otherwise they will remain straight (1).
How to clean the Puntarelle
- Remove the outside leaves
- Take the shoots and cut them in thin strings
- Leave them to rest in iced water until they curl
- Rince, serve them in a salad bowl and season with the anchovy vinaigrette
How to make the anchovy dressing vinaigrette
The Puntarelle are seasoned with an Anchovie vinaigrette, it is a perfect contrast to their slightly bitter taste.
Make the anchovy dressing with:
- half clove of garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
- white vinegar
I prefer to use the anchovies preserved in salt rather than oil because I like to add my own extra virgin olive oil. The oil they used to preserve it could not be of good quality.
This anchovy vinaigrette has a nice garlicky, fishy salty flavour which you can use as a dressing for any other salad.
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Puntarelle alla Romana
- In a small bowl blend the anchovies with the garlic, the extra virgin olive oil and the vinegar
- Remove the outer leaves of the puntarelle
- Cut the puntarelle into thin slices and put them in ice water to curl.
- Drain the puntarelle add the anchovies seasoning adding some extra virgin olive oil. You do not need to add salt
- Stir and serve
- Look for Puntarelle in a specialized Italian market or substitute with Endive
- Make sure they are fresh and that the outside leaves are strong and green
- Only use the shoots inside the vegetable head
- Make sure the shoots are long enough otherwise they will not curl
- Use the anchovies preserved in salt
- You can use as a dressing for any other salad.
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This recipe is included in the challenge: 7 Vegetarian Side-dishes for a Stress-free Party