Puntarelle: what it is and how to prepare it

When I lived in the United States, winter tasted cozy like pumpkin pie and baking spice. Warm cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg were the flavors of my colder months.

But living in Rome has expanded my winter palette and now the bite of bitter greens with vinegar, hot garlic, and savory anchovies tastes like winter too. Basically, the opposite of pie. That’s because winter is puntarelle season in Rome.

Puntarelle is a bitter-tasting green in season from October to April that Romans serve in a crunchy anchovy salad with raw garlic and vinegar.

Like radicchio and endives, puntarelle is a type of chicory found in the dandelion family. Romans slice it and soak it in cold water to make it curl. That’s the chicory soaking in water to get its curl on in the photo above. Also, snails.

I make this salad a lot.

Puntarelle

  • Puntarelle
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 5 salt-packed anchovies, rinsed, deboned, and filleted
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Put several grains of coarse salt and garlic in a mortar and crush the garlic with the pestle.
  2. Add the anchovies and continue to crush with the pestle until you get a sort of paste.
  3. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and season with black pepper.
  4. Stir in the olive oil.
  5. Place the puntarelle and the anchovy mixture in a bowl and mix well.
  6. Let sit for about an hour before serving.

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