Insalata di Puntarelle, Mandarine e Menta
Puntarelle, Mandarin Orange and Mint Salad
How about a different kind of salad to the usual? If you like endives and radicchio, you may just well love these things- "puntarelle" they are called, but also sometimes known as "roman salad greens". The plant itself has long outer leaves, similar in appearance to dandelion greens, but on the inside is a cluster of these tender 'pods', which are mildly bitter, but succulent and tasty... if you like that kind of thing! And being Sicilian... of course I do!
To make the salad, snap the individual pods apart and if the bitterness doesn't agree with you, soak them in a warm water for 15-20 minutes, with a little salt and plenty of sugar- then chill again briefly before preparing.
It is not an absolute must by any means, but if you filet the mandarin orange segments as I did, you can squeeze out the juice as I did to make your dressing. Otherwise, you can simply split the segments apart and use another orange to squeeze. The dressing consisted of mandarin juice, olive oil, honey, a small amount of white balsamico, a little grated ginger and the seasoning came from some of my herb-infused salt- this time with lavender, sechuan pepper, mint and lime.
I put the salad together out of the puntarelle, some of the more tender leaves (these are a little bitter!), the sweet orange, some fresh peppermint leaves... and then added the dressing and some red cracked pepper corns! I think this is an incredible way to start a meal- it will bring your taste- buds to life and work up your appetite for more yummy stuff... but the rest is up to you!