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Anyone who has tasted curly tendrils of bitter, crunchy puntarelle coated in a rich anchovy olive oil and garlic dressing will probably have already fallen in love with this delicious appetizer.
Come November, the hearts of enamoured fans beat a little faster as the seasonal delicacy swings back into season and lands back on the menu in many a restaurant in native Rome. But, they're also a welcome addition on many a menu further afield.
If you've ever tried preparing them at home, you'll know the fiddly prep work is well worth the effort. Or, if you happen to be in Rome, you'll even find them ready prepped.
Here's how to enjoy puntarelle at home, if you're lucky enough to get your hands on some this autumn.
What are puntarelle?
Puntarelle are the "fine tips" found hiding inside the spindly leaves of the Catalonian chicory.
How to prepare puntarelle?
Pull off all the outer leaves and detach each finger like hollow stalk.
Cut each stalk lengthwise and and then in half again. Keep cutting lengthwise until you have strips ¼ inch wide.
Put the puntarelle strips in a large bowl of iced water and soak for at least one hour, until they turn curly.
How to eat puntarelle?
Simplicity is best. Punterelle can be eaten hot or cold but our favourite is the classic, served raw in a rich dressing of anchovies, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice or white wine vinegar. The robust dressing packs a punch and cuts through the bitterness of the puntarelle. The labour of love is well worth the reward.
Here's the recipe to enjoying puntarelle at their finest.