Thursday, March 09, 2006


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.

photograph picture mystery vegetable which turns out to be puntarelle

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).

photograph picture puntarelle mushroom and chorizo salad with sherry veinegar and manchego

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.

photograph picture fatted calf chorizo

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.

| | | | | |


  • At 9/3/06 09:13, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ah, interesting. Had never heard about this veggie before either.

    Nice shots btw, you are playing with your new toy I can see!

  • At 9/3/06 11:19, Blogger susan said…

    i am dying to try some fatted calf. unfortunately when i went up to sf in january they went on holiday. :(

    your salad looks delicious! i'll keep an eye out for the puntarelle. i like trying out new veges.

  • At 9/3/06 12:09, Blogger leedav said…

    I had worked with puntarelle a little at a restaurant I worked at so when someone gave me some free seeds last spring I planted them enthusiastically. Unfortunately what came up was not puntarelle! The whole season I never did figure out what it was. Kind of like huge dandelion greens? Oh well...

  • At 9/3/06 15:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fascinating! I wonder if I would like it--I love bitter melon so much, I just might like puntarelle, too.

    Neat looking stuff.

    Thanks for the new veggie information!

  • At 9/3/06 19:14, Blogger Elise said…

    Hmmm. I've never even heard of puntarelle. Now I'll have to keep my eyes peeled. The chorizo looks delicious.

  • At 10/3/06 14:46, Blogger Monkey Gland said…

    Hmm, eating chicken livers ay? You sure your vegetable didn't snatch him in the night?


    Ok, I promise I'll stop now.


  • At 11/3/06 05:48, Blogger Cate said…

    Sam, is the puntarelle very tender when it cooks?

  • At 11/3/06 07:39, Blogger Sam said…

    bea - yes definitely in the 'playing' realm. Not quite there yet!

    yoony - unfortunately they take off just after christmas it is true - but at that time they definitely deserve the break.

    lee - according to the farm i bought the puntarelle from it is a 'type of dandelion'. Maybe you need to keep it longer for the head of spears to sprout out. If you do a google of puntarelle you will see they have dandelion like leaves - it looks they had been removed from the one I bought.

    Barbara - I can't say I really 'liked' this vegetable. it was interesting to test it out but I wouldnt rush to buy it again.

    Elise - oooh the chorizo - it is SO good!

    Silly Monkey :)

    Cate - it wasnt cooked. None of the recipes I found suggested cooking it.

  • At 11/3/06 07:51, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    interesting. it's just fun to say the name. i'll have to see if my vegetable guy can haul some in from your coast :)

  • At 24/3/06 02:15, Blogger Susan in Italy said…

    Fred might like the traditional Roman salad that pairs the puntarelle (shaved so thin they curl when immersed in ice water - that's traditional) with a paste of anchovies, salt and garlic mixed with olive oil as the dressing. The anchovies and garlic really cut the bitterness of the puntarelle. Also if the photo is any indication, you've got some pretty overgrown puntarelle which would probably make them more bitter.

  • At 24/3/06 06:21, Blogger Sam said…

    vanessa - i am not sure it is worth all the effort.

    susan - i tried to make them curl but couldnt leave them the required hours to facilitate that. You are making me laugh at the thought of Fred eating anchovies - he wont touch any seafood, let alone one of the more challenging fish! I would like to try that recipe myself though - I read about it when i was doing my research.

    Thanks for the info about my bundle of spears perhaps being old, though, that is very useful to know!


  • At 26/3/06 05:28, Blogger Susan in Italy said…

    So you're in San Francisco and you've found puntarelle. That's incredible to me. In Italy you'll find it in Rome, of course and also in Milan but a Neapolitan friend of mine had never seen or heard of them before! Many veggies are really regional here. Are they common in SF?

  • At 29/3/06 10:19, Blogger Tracie P. said…

    oh! i had puntarelle for the first time two years ago in Ischia...we ate them with a bagna cauda-esque dipping sauce. i immediately fell in love with that hollow, sweet-bitter crunch...mmmm

  • At 6/10/09 07:15, Blogger ELPNYC said…

    Make sure to eat the points from the inside base as well! They are very tender and delicious! Make sure to blanch and shock before you saute in very salty water. (Im a chef trained in N. Italy)

  • At 18/10/09 11:45, Blogger Sam said…

    thanks for the extra tips Erin!


Post a Comment

<< Home