Seed Saving: beginner
Jagged Chicory from Gaeta – Puntarelle (Cichorium intybus)
Jagged Chicory From Gaeta - Puntarelle (Cichorium intybus): the Catalonia chicory , called in other areas of Italy "Chicory asparagus" , includes several local varieties. Some of them are the sprouts , similar to white asparagus, that have become a dish to be eaten raw, the Puntarelle. These shoots look like a leafy head and display a beautiful intense green as well as an elongated shape, white stalks, and serrated leaves. In the head there are stems, similar to white asparagus. From these come the buds of the chicory that is about to sprout, that is, to produce flowers and seeds. These buds are the famous Puntarelle that hold a slightly bitter taste, are tender and crunchy, and can be consumed both, raw and cooked. Puntarelle are now popular in markets, supermarkets and restaurants throughout Italy in two main versions, those from Gaeta and those from Galatina; the former are thinner and more delicate, whereas the latter are more fleshy and intense, both exceptional. Popular in cuisine not only for their particular taste, but also for their nutritional qualities. In Lazio and Roman cuisine they are mainly consumed raw, a beloved part of the most rooted tradition.
Puntarelle are often found ready to be consumed in stores, but here we want to share how to prepare them directly from the garden.
From the harvested head, separate the outer leaves from the shoots, the leaves removed can be used in other preparations such as the one indicated in the Jagged Catalonia Chicory.
The sprouts should be washed thoroughly in running water to remove any possible impurities, ribbed vegetables such as Catalonia tend to keep soil and insects inside so this is a very important step.
Remove the green leaves from the sprouts and, cut the base where it is hardest. Almost done From the stalks obtained is where the real Puntarelle are taken. Each sprout should be cut lengthwise several times, until thin strips are obtained. To get that typical curly shape they should be put in water and ice (lots of ice) and a little lemon . They must soak in iced water for at least an hour. The result will be the some delicious, crunchy veggies. Important: if cut too thick they will not curl, be careful to make very thin strips and immerse them in very cold water.
How to cook them
But also not necessary. Raw puntarelle, seasoned with oil, anchovy fillets and a little wine vinegar are already perfect. Nothing could be simpler for a fresh recipe that does not degrade thermolabile vitamins, and is rich in fatty acids. Thy can also be cooked, steamed, grilled, or baked.