Puntarelle are one of the interesting vegetables available in this season. Where I come from, northern Italy, they are not very common, but in central and southern Italy they are widely used, especially in Lazio region where the stems and shoots are eaten raw in a salad, simply seasoned with olive oil, anchovies and garlic. There is even a specific tool to cut the shoots 🙂
But the whole plant can be eaten, and in this post I’m going to show a very nice pasta 🙂
I added some slices of pancetta dolce arrotolata, for decoration but especially because it fits very well. But to add extra texture it could be nice to add some breadcrumbs at the end, toasted with olive oil, or some toasted pine nuts too for example.
Let’s see the recipe.
INGREDIENTS (2 people):
- 200 g spaghetti
- 250 g puntarelle (stems, leaves and shoots)
- 1 anchovy, salt cured (or 2-3 fillets kept in olive oil)
- 1 clove of garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- freshly ground Pecorino cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano if you prefer)
- some slices of pancetta dolce arrotolata (optional)
- First of all clean the puntarelle: cut the leaves and keep them apart, then fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes, pull the hollow bulbs from the head of puntarelle then with a knife cut each bulb lengthways into thin slices and put each slice in the iced water to reduce some of their bitterness, together with the stems (I cut also those). Leave the slices soaking for about an hour.
- Then take a pot, heat a couple of liters of water, add the salt and boil the puntarelle leaves for about 8-9 minutes. Then put them in a glass with some of their boiling water, black pepper and freshly grated Pecorino cheese (at your taste, I used a couple of full tablespoons) and reduce into a cream using an immersion blender.
- Now take a pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil and add the garlic. When the garlic gets some color remove it, and add the anchovies. Then drain the puntarelle stems and shoots and add them to the pan. Cook at medium heat for about 10 minutes. In the same time boil the pasta in the same water where you have previously boiled the puntarelle leaves.
- When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the pan with the puntarelle stems and shoots, add also the cream made with the puntarelle leaves and mix together. If needed add some boiling water.
- Serve it, garnish with some slices of pancetta dolce arrotolata, and enjoy 🙂