Puntarelle: the vegetable symbol of traditional Roman cuisine

Many people love puntarelle (chicory tops) for their crunchiness and unmistakable flavour.
Often we see them on the market stalls and supermarkets already trimmed, with their characteristic curled shape that makes them unique. But what are puntarelle? They are the shoots, called “talli”, of a variety of the so-called catalogna chicory; the leaves surrounding them are green, with the side parts serrated, and have white ribs. Even if it is sold all year round, the seasons in which this vegetable grows spontaneously, and therefore its taste can be best appreciated, are winter and spring.

Now widespread throughout Italy, for a long time this vegetable has been cultivated in only three regions: Apulia, Campania and Lazio. In particular, the salad of puntarelle alla romana, with garlic and anchovies, is a fresh and tasty side dish typical of Lazio and some areas of Campania.
In addition to being good, puntarelle are also good for your health! Let’s see together why…

 

Beneficial properties and nutritional values

This vegetable with its unmistakable flavour is rich in fibre and vitamins (groups A, B and C). and minerals. Although some people like to eat it cooked, to ensure the best of its It is preferable to eat it raw, in a salad. One of the fibers contained is inulin, which has a purifying effect on the body and helps the liver work better. Let’s not forget also that the bitter taste, which some people particularly appreciate, has the advantage of making this vegetable an excellent ally of the digestive system and blood circulation.

The high water content makes it a low-calorie food, which can therefore be consumed with peace of mind even by those who want to keep their weight under control.
It is always a pleasure to know that what we eat, besides satisfying the palate, also is good for you. So let’s give space in the kitchen to this delicious vegetable!

 

The puntarelle at the dining table

One of the advantages of the catalogna chicory is that you can eat all parts of it.
As they say in Rome: “Don’t throw anything away!”. With the green leaves that enclose the shoots, you can prepare a tasty side dish, blanching them and frying them in a pan with garlic, oil and chilli. The leaves can also be used as an ingredient in soups or making savory pies. The thing that requires a little more effort, and above all patience, is to cut the shoots into strips, with which to prepare delicious salads. The secret to curl the strips and make them more crunchy is to immerse them in very cold water. The puntarelle can also be eaten steamed and seasoned with olive oil, lemon or vinegar and salt, or sautéed in a pan with garlic, olive oil, chilli pepper and anchovy fillets.

If you love puntarelle and Roman cuisine, we are waiting for you at the restaurant il Piccolo Mondo where you can enjoy the classic salad of puntarelle with garlic, oil and anchovies, to be associated as a side dish to the typical dishes of the tradition.
For reservations please contact us at 06 42016034.