Puntarelle, named for its small and spiky-shaped leaves, is one of the key vegetables in the cuisine of Rome and the surrounding Lazio region. A vivid green and long-stemmed variety of chicory with a crunchy texture, a slightly bitter taste and can be enjoyed cooked or raw, as in our recipe for Roman-style-Catalogna-chicory-puntarelle-salad. Here, it comes together with chickpeas and some easy flavourings to create a satisfying primo piatto or starter.
Serves 2, Preparation 15 mins, Cooking approx. 2 hrs
- 500gm puntarelle chicory
- 300gm dried or pre-cooked chickpeas
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 chilli pepper
- 2 anchovy fillets in oil, optional
- 250ml of hot water or vegetable broth
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Dried chickpeas should be soaked in water at room temperature for 10 to 12 hours or overnight. The longer they soak, the better. Cover them completely and change the water twice. At the end, rinse under the cold tap and drain.
Trim off the tough, white base of the puntarelle and cut the stems and leaves into strips.
Fry the garlic cloves and the chilli pepper whole in a non-stick pan with two tablespoons of EVOO and add the anchovy fillets, stirring until they break down. Add the chickpeas, letting them cook for a few minutes to absorb flavour. The garlic and chilli stay in the pan during cooking to continue releasing flavour and can be discarded at the end.
Slowly add the hot water or broth and cook for about two hours, checking every so often. The chickpeas should still be firm at the end.
Add the puntarelle strips and more hot water or broth if necessary and cook for 10 minutes.
Season with salt, if needed, only at this point.