Thursday, January 21, 2010


A young puntarelle busily maturing in the Tierra field

PUNTARELLE is a variety of chicory, with serrated leaves, like those on dandelions, attached to the base of the plant and surrounding long, hollow, blunt-tipped whitish-green shoots that grow from the inside of the plant during the course of the winter. Also known as Catalogna de Galatina, puntarelle is a good representation of the flavors we usually expect of the chicory family. Its flavor profile hints at pepperiness like arugula in the leaves, a touch of fennel in the stalks and an underlying flavor that is a cross between chicory and endive. The shoots have the crisp, satisfying crunch of celery. Tasty raw or cooked, cooking mellows puntarelle's unusual flavor, so the shoots and leaves are most often served raw in salad, particularly a salad with a rich, powerful anchovy dressing that makes the faint bitterness seem almost sweet. It's the traditional treatment in Italy. Some chefs recommend slicing the hollow spears of the puntarelle VERY thinly lengthwise, and soaking them in a large quantity of cold water for two to three hours. This causes the thin strips to curl up in an extraordinary manner and they become juicier and less bitter. Other chefs exploit the sharp flavor by using rich ingredients like sardines and trout to help balance puntarelle's assertiveness. Feta cheese and black olives also complement this unusual vegetable.

**Credit to where this text was copied and pasted word for word

A puntarelle with a funny center being demonstrated for the camera by Lee-it grew more linear than they usually do, more often the hearts are full of a circle of stalks-tastes no different, of course

Myself and a Ferry Plaza market customer posed with this prized, Tierra-grown puntarelle last winter. Quite popular with city folk and chefs, the majority sell out in the wee hours of market

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