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Puntarella is a chicory variety that is comparatively unique in its appearance versus common chicory. Its base is creamy white and dense with thick white and green hollow shoots and branching toothy serrated elongated greens that come to a point. Each Puntarella base can contain up to twenty shoots. Puntarella is known for its crispy texture and its peppered and distinct flavor characteristic of chicory plants. Its shoots are less robust than its greens with flavor undertones reminiscent of Fennel with a textural crunch of Celery.
Puntarella chicory is available during the winter months.
Puntarella, botanically classified as Cichorium intybus Puntarella, is an herbaceous perennial grown as an annual fresh market green. Known both as a shooting and head type of chicory it is most commonly sold today with the shoots removed from its core. In Italy it is also sometimes sold at a higher price pre sliced and soaked as a time saver for those not wishing to hassle with the lengthy classic Puntarella preparation procedure.
There are two common preparations of Puntarella. The leafy greens and shoots are served raw in a rich dressing of anchovies, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice or white wine vinegar. The assertiveness of the dressing compliments the sharp flavors of Puntarella. The other method is also very traditional. The sprouts and greens are julienned into thin strips and soaked in ice cold water with or without lemon juice. The slices curl up, bitter flavors mellow and the Puntarella becomes succulent. Complimentary pairings include feta, olives, bacon, caviar, cream based dressings, forest mushrooms, gorgonzola or ripening cheeses, green onions, basil and mint.
In Rome where Puntartella is popularly consumed a special tool for slicing the long spears known as a taglia puntarella is commonly sold at kitchen shops and Greengrocers. In English speaking countries Puntarella is sometimes referred to as asparagus chicory, a result of the shoots appearance which is reminiscent of asparagus spears.
Puntarella is a descendant of the wild chicory species that is native to western Asia and central Russia. Puntarella originated along the Catalonia coastline of Lazio Gaeta, northwest of Naples. It is a cool season crop that prefers temperate climates. Though far more common in Italy than anywhere else, it has been naturalized in other regions throughout the Northern and Western Hemispheres.
Recipes that include Puntarella. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Martha Stewart||Fried Chicken with Puntarella Salad|
|The New York Times||Puntarella with Green Anchoïade|
|Wild Greens and Sardines||Puntarelle Salad with Duck Eggs, Potatoes & Bacon|
People have spotted Puntarella using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
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