Picked up some puntarelle and another variety of chicory from the Green City farmers’ market yesterday (thanks Green Acres Farm).  Puntarelle is a long, spiky Italian chicory related to radicchio and endive.  It has a mild, bitter flavor and is great for salads.  If you can’t puntarelle or chicory, substitute with dandelion greens or any other leafy green.

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Also, got a great recipe for a sauce to accompany the greens (Puntarelle in Salsa di Alici — a traditional Roman dish), courtesy of a chef, who just so happens to cook at one of my favorite Chicago restaurants (Nightwood, now closed), shopping at the market that morning.  This dish calls for anchovies; an ingredient I am not overly familiar with.  Had never bought anchovies before, so was not sure if I would be able to find good quality anchovies locally.  Luckily, we have a great food scene in Chicago and locating some was easy (located some at an Italian market down the street, [Bari]).  I was told that Agostino Recca anchovies from Sciacca Mare, Sicily, are the best.  Apparently, this area is renowned for its seafood (will have to put it on my travel wish list).

Note: Have eaten my fair share of anchovies since posting this recipe just over one year ago.  Have also been to Sicily since then; in fact, drove right through the town of Sciacca while meandering along the southern coast.  Can check Sicily off my travel wish list, and now hope to revisit this enchanting island in the very near future.


In addition to the salt-cured variety used to prepare the sauce, I enjoyed a small plate of anchovies marinated in white wine vinegar.  They are more delicate and far less salty than their salt-cured counterparts.
 
Salsa di Alici is great with any type of bitter green (added a few mustard greens to the mix).  The anchovies are subtle (not too salty) and provide an added dimension of flavor to what is otherwise a simple vinaigrette.

Puntarelle in Salsa di Alici (Chicory in Anchovy Sauce)

1 bunch puntarelle or chicory (or dandelion greens)
4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove minced
3 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

 

With a mortar and pestle, smash the anchovies and garlic to make a paste.  Whisk in the olive oil and vinegar.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can serve the sauce over raw greens or lightly sauté the greens in a pan with some olive oil and then toss the cooked greens with the dressing.  If eating raw, soak the greens in an ice bath for 30 minutes to an hour; drain, pat dry, and toss with the anchovy dressing.

“Eat food, not too much, mostly greens.”  Michael Pollan

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