A New Chicory: Puntarelle found at the Sacramento Co-op

The Sacramento Valley is blessed with a bounty of fruits and vegetables no matter the season. Our table has been laden with chicories this winter: salads of radicchio and frisée with bacon, curly endive in farro and bean soup, and escarole with pasta and lentils. These old favorites are stimulating enough, but we recently discovered a rare Roman chicory called puntarelle at the Sacramento co-op ($5.99/lb).

puntarelle

It’s a bizarre looking plant with dark green serrated outer leaves and a “head” of asparagus-like hollow stalks on the inside. The inner stalks are traditionally used in a salad called Puntarelle alla Romagna: Slice the hollow stalks and put them in ice cold water for an hour where they eventually curl up like ribbons. Rinse, dry, and toss with a garlic anchovy dressing (use good quality salted anchovies like Agostino Recca from Corti Brothers. Rinse the salt off of the anchovies, pound the garlic and anchovy in a mortar and pestle with a little salt and use the paste to make a vinaigrette dressing.)

Puntarelle_hollow_sliced

The salad was excellent. It was bitter, refreshing, and crunchy; and the puntarelle made the perfect surface for the savory dressing. We reserved the outer green leaves for another mixed chicory salad, but they’d also be good in soup!

puntarelleallaromagna

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