Chicory Sprout (Salad of Chicory Heart)
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Puntarelle Romane or Chicory Sprout are as the name implies traditionally a Roman vegetable from the chicory family; from there comes their deliciously bitter, fresh flavour. Examining a head of puntarelle, it looks green and leafy. But start to pry apart the outer leaves and you’ll soon find the pale green, crunchy center that sets this vegetable apart. The core of the vegetable grows into multiple pointy spears, that are almost asparagus like at the tips.
First thing to do is clean the Puntarelle Romane. Rinsing under cold running water, then you must peel off the outer, dark green leafs. Then each spear must be cut off the central core. Then cut out the harder part. Each tiny spear has to be cut lengthwise, into thin strips. The strips are then put into iced water, to lose some of their bitterness, soaking in the iced water for a good hour until crisped and also to curl up. Try them in Puntarelle Roman salad: crispy, deliciously bitter curls of tender young puntarelle shoots tossed with a dressing of anchovies, garlic, salt, freshly ground pepper vinegar and olive oil.
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