Puntarelle is an Italian green; it’s in the chicory family, related to endive, radicchio, escarole, dandelion, etc., all of which share a distinct bitterness. Generally speaking, puntarelle is an autumn- to-winter plant (September through February). I’ve been sourcing my puntarelle from my friends at Tree and Leaf Farms, Unionville, VA.
Have you heard of puntarelle? Are you a fan?
If you’ve had puntarelle, you may be more familiar with the Catalogna Puntarelle di Galatina variety, which looks like this. Typically, the thick stems are thinly sliced into vertical strips, submerged in ice water for about an hour, after which which they curl and crisp up and look like this.
Thereafter, the leaves/stems are simply dressed.
Puntarelle alla romana (aka puntarelle in salsa di alici) — a salad made from curly, crunchy strips of the puntarelle hearts with an anchovy vinaigrette.
I only used the leaves for my salad, but next time I’m going to try slicing up the stems and submerging them in ice water; I’ve read that it takes a bit of the bite out of the chicory.
Update, I’ve tried submerging the stems in ice water. Some curled up, some not so much.
I made a meal out of this salad by adding a little bit of smoky bacon, roasted potatoes (cooked in the bacon fat), soft-boiled duck eggs, and chive blossoms.
If you can’t find puntarelle, frisee or dandelion greens would be a nice substitute.
Prepared this salad a few months back, so chive blossoms are no longer around. You can always substitute chives in lieu of their blossoms.
The traditional dressing for this Roman puntarelle salad is an anchovy vinaigrette. For the anchovy vinaigrette, you’ll need anchovies, olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.
Puntarelle Salad with Duck Eggs, Potatoes, and Bacon
1 large bunch of puntarelle, leaves chopped
couple strips of smoked apple wood bacon, diced
6 baby potatoes, sliced in half
soft-boiled duck eggs (recipe to follow); substitute chicken eggs in lieu of duck eggs, sliced in half
chives or chive blossoms
Puntarelle dressing (recipe to follow)
sea salt and black pepper to taste
Cook the diced bacon over medium heat until crisp, 5-6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Add the potatoes, cut side down, to the pan. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing periodically until nicely browned and crispy on the outside and fork tender on the inside. Remove and set aside to cool.
Toss the puntarelle with the dressing. Top with the bacon, pan roasted potatoes, soft-boiled eggs, and chives or chive blossoms.
6 1/2 Minute Soft-boiled Duck Egg
Prepare an ice water bath. Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Decrease the temperature so that the water reduces to a rapid simmer and gently lower the eggs into the water one at a time. Cook the eggs for 6 1/2 minutes for soft-boiled duck eggs (5 1/2 minutes for chicken eggs). Place the eggs in the ice water bath. Carefully peel the eggs.
makes ~ 1/3 cup
4 to 5 anchovies (more or less to taste)
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice or red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a mortar and pestle, pound the anchovy and garlic to form a smooth paste. Add the lemon juice (or vinegar) and whisk. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Alternately, you could prepare the dressing in a food processor, blender or use an immersion blender to emulsify the oil.