Wandering through the stalls of the Hollwood Farmer’s Market and what to my wondering eyes did appear? Puntarelle!!! We found it long and leafy, weedlike and wild. Admittedly, this Italian green is rarely spotted in the States. Part of the chicory family, its taste is distinct, bitter, and when seasoned the right way, we think quite delicious!
There is a detailed process of preparing puntarelle for a salad which involves a certain way of slicing and soaking in an ice bath. You can follow directions in a lovely article at the Domenica Cooks website.
Most recipes featuring puntarelle feature anchovies. The salty and the bitter are a nice mix, especially in winter. But if you are inclined to more vegetarian fare and lean towards impatience, like me, try the following recipe substituting anchovies with capers to capture the salty flavor without the little fishes and sauté quick-style in a pan. After sautéing we served it atop pizza. The amount of each ingredient is up to you and your taste buds.
Chop leaves and stems of puntarelle in ½ inch slices. And yes, we know, traditional recipes only use only the inner stalks. But we are radical cooks, not traditional ones.
Crush or mince garlic and sauté with chopped puntarelle in pan with olive oil, garlic and capers. Add salt and sauté some more.
When leaves are wilted add fresh lemon juice. Serve on its own, atop pizza, in pasta, or a side dish.
Mangia bene! And embrace the bitter!