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Puntarelle alla Romana is a classic Roman dish, they are the shoots of a type of chicory 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.
Puntarelle alla Romana are made only with the shoots inside the vegetable head. You can use the outside leaves for minestrone or soup.
The shoots are cut very thin and immersed in iced water so they will curl. Make sure the shoots are long enough otherwise they will remain straight.
How to make the anchovy vinaigrette
The Puntarelle are seasoned with an Anchovie vinaigrette which contrasts their slightly bitter taste.
The seasoning is made 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. Who knows what oil has been used to preserve them.
This anchovy vinaigrette has a nice garlicky, fishy salty flavour which you can use as a dressing for any other salad.
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
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Puntarelle alla Romana
- 1 puntarelle head
- 3 anchovies best preserved in salt
- 1/2 clove garlic
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 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
Tips for making Puntarelle alla Romana
- 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.