Puntarelle in anchovy sauce
Puntarelle in salsa d’alici
Puntarelle in anchovy sauce was a bit of a revelation to me. The elegant combination of savoury, bitter and salty flavours makes the salad so addictive, I have already started looking forward to the next season.
In Denmark people have not yet learned to love chicory, which may explain and perhaps also excuse why it took me more than ten years to try out the ‘puntarelle’ roots that Italians seem to cherish. Puntarelle – which in Italy is also known as ‘cicoria di catalogna’, ‘cicoria asparago’ or in my local Puglian market stalls as ‘cicoria spigata’ are long heads of salad with dandelion-shaped leaves and tender shoots or flower stems in the middle. It is mainly the shoots and the stems that are appreciated for their elegant bitter taste, delightful curls and crisp texture.
The curls form when puntarelle stems are sliced thinly lengthwise and placed in iced water. The curls are almost impossible to eat without leaving traces of oily dressing down every shirtfront. The mess can be avoided by cutting the stems across in small o-shaped slices. It tastes terrific both ways, but the unruly curls are so much more fun.