What are puntarelle and how to cook them

Chicory pointers are a typical food of the Mediterranean culinary tradition, among the tastiest and most delicious wild herbs of our territories. They are easy to find and recognize because they are part of a widespread and resistant wild plant, wild chicory, scientific name Cichorium Intybus.

Puntarella originates from the young plant starting from the end of March and for about a month. After the spring it is no longer found, since unlike the chicory chicory point cultivated, the wild chicory pointer inevitably follows the seasonal cycle.

What kind of vegetables are chicory

As the name also suggests, puntarelle have the appearance of small spikes. These, indeed, are only the extremities of the sprouts which grow, tender and large, on the central stump of the chicory plant, both of the wild and of the Catalonian cultivated variety.

Puntarelle are distinguished by one original formcurled, one crunchy texture it’s a bitter and very strong taste. They are often eaten raw in salads after a meal, precisely because the bitter taste cleanses the mouth, leaving a pleasant sensation on the palate.

Difference between Catalonian and wild chicory chicory: the season

The wild chicory pointer it grows spontaneously and is harvested only in a specific period of the year. As mentioned, it originates from the young plant starting from end of March and for about a monthbefore flowering begins. After spring it is no longer found.

For the chicory chicory, however, we do not have a real seasonality. The harvest period varies according to the timing of sowing which generally runs from August to December. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find Puntarelle of Catalonia at the supermarket counters both in winter and in spring.

Furthermore, the appearance of the two varieties is very similar, both are crunchy, but according to expert chicory growers, the wild chicory is decidedly more bitter and tasty.

How to cook Roman chicory

Puntarelle are never ready. They are collected or purchased in tufts e they are cleaned only when consumed. By cutting them much earlier, you risk removing the characteristic crunchiness of the chicory. They are eaten both raw and cooked. The Roman recipe calls for them raw.

Puntarelle alla romana original recipe

To flavor the salad of Roman Puntarelle you need to prepare a vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil, white wine or apple vinegar, a pinch of salt and white pepper. In a bowl, combine the vinaigrette obtained with a clove of garlic and anchovies wash. Leave to flavor to taste, then remove the garlic and pound the anchovies with a fork, preferably with a mortar. Add the sauce to the washed and dried chicory and stir carefully. Roman chicory salad is ready to be served.

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