Volcano asparagus from Rome

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Volcano asparagus, in Italian is puntarelle or cicoria di catalogna or cicoria asparago is a variant of chicory (chicoria intybus). The heads are characterized by an elongated shape (about 40–50 cm), light green stems and dandeliom shaped leaves. ‘Puntarelle’ shoots have a pleasantly bitter taste.

Applications

‘Puntarelle’ are picked when they are young and tender and may be eaten raw or cooked. Often used as a traditional ingredient in the Roman salad called by the same name, they are prepared with the leaves stripped and the shoots soaked in cold water until they curl. The salad is served with a prepared dressing of anchovy, garlic, vinegar, and salt, pounded and emulsified with olive oil.

When do you happen to choose the warm version of puntarelle here are the directions: fry them in some olive oil add two garlic cloves, salt and pepper to taste.

Roll the salted and peppered cod fish in some flour and fry in an other pan. Serve fish with the puntarelle.

To make salad: Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice.

Cut the leaves from the puntarelle and begin to slice off the tender stalks from the puntarelle.

Cut into matchsticks either with a knife or using a puntarelle cutter. Discard the hard woody part of the puntarelle. Add the puntarelle to the ice water to leech the bitterness out. Add the puntarelle to the ice water and soak until it curls up, about 1 hour.

When the puntarelle are ready, strain in a colander, and spin them dry in a salad spinner or dry with tea towels.

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