Puntarelle was the answer to yesterday's little teaser. I had never seen or heard of Puntarelle before I grabbed a bunch of it from Mariquita farms last weekend. It looks a little bit like asparagus except all of the stems are joined at the base. Unlike asparagus, the spears are hollow. And unlike asparagus, this vegetable is bitter. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that it is part of the chicory family.
In Italy, Puntarella are traditionally paired with anchovies. I didn't have any anchovies, so instead I made up a salad with marinated mushrooms, sherry vinegar, garlic, chorizo, Manchego cheese and, of course, the puntarelle (which should be sliced lengthways and soaked in salted water a few hours to reduce their bitterness).
The Fatted Calf have just won an Independent Food Festival Award for Charcuterie to Swoon For from Derrick, a choice which I wholeheartedly support. The Fatted Calf's Spanish-style chorizos are irresistable. What with my testing a little piece, here and there, I am surprised any chunks of it even made it as far as the salad. I warmed the chorizo in a little olive oil, so that the fats started to melt. I used the result, along with Sherry vinegar, to marinate the mushrooms for the salad.
PS. Fred turned his nose up at this salad. The puntarelle is markedly bitter and as such won't be to everyones' taste. In a surprising turn around I did manage to get the chicken livers past him though. More on that another day.