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Puntarelle

They Look Threatening, But Are An Excellent Roman Chicory

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Puntarelle: Roman Chicory

Puntarelle: Roman Chicory

© Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com
Puntarelle are a Roman variety of chicory, and despite their rather threatening appearance are quite good. The word puntarelle is Roman argot, and until fairly recently there was a certain amount of discussion outside of Rome as to what puntarelle are. Turns out they're chicory shoots of a variety known as Catalogna, picked while still young and tender.

As is the case with all chicory they do have a bitter undertone to them that makes them a very pleasing accompaniment to rich, hearty foods. Mr. Jannattoni notes that in his home their preparation was a task jealously guarded by his grandmother. She must have kept the secret of their preparation to herself, because he quotes Ada Boni's instructions for the sauce with which to serve them:

Once you have washed, picked over, and shredded your puntarelle, grind one or more cloves of garlic in a mortar with a few rinsed, boned anchovies (ideally the kind packed in salt, though you can used canned anchovy filets packed in oil too). When the two are ground to a smooth paste work some good vinegar into the mixture to dilute it, and use the sauce thus obtained to dress your puntarelle.

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