One of the best things about travelling to different parts of the world is discovering new taste sensations and exciting ways to cook vegetables. For this recipe, we travel to the central Italian region of Lazio to discover the vegetable puntarelle, using it to create a fresh, crisp and extremely tasty salad that brings to mind the classic Roman holiday.
Grate the pecorino cheese and combine with the breadcrumbs, oregano and crushed garlic. Spread the mixture on a lined baking tray and place in the oven at 190 decrees Celsius until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
To prepare the puntarelle, first remove the outer leaves (you can use these later in a soup). Detach the hard stalk at the base and cut the inner shoots into slices 2-3mm thick. Soak the shoots in a bowl of iced water for 1 hour. This turns them into beautiful curls and removes some of the bitterness.
Finely chop the anchovy fillets and mash them into a paste. Mix the anchovies together with the dressing ingredients. Drain the puntarelle, pat dry and place in a large serving bowl. Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle over the breadcrumb mixture before serving.
Tips from the author
Puntarelle is a vegetable from the chicory family with sharp-yet-sweet and crunchy strings that are often enjoyed in a salad. Served on a plate, puntarelle looks like a tangle of pale green leaves from your garden. Puntarelle can be found in Rome in the wintertime, most often sold by the old ladies at the local market. To experience the same refreshing crispness of this salad you may substitute puntarelle with endive or chicory.