Steamed Puntarelle Stalks with Sun-Dried Tomato & Poached Egg
"...pass me your plates!"- or how exactly did Mark Anthony's old speech go? Oh, right, he wanted you to lend him your ears- well that's fair enough. As long as you keep hold of your knives and forks to enjoy this Roman-influenced meal, which I bring to you by way of Sicily!
Puntarelle are these luscious greens here, a relative of dandelion greens in appearance, with beautiful white "pods" that grow in clusters at their centre. The white parts are mildly bitter, with a similar flavor to endives, which can make many a wonderful- an example of which is coming straight up in my next posting, but the stalks and the greens are more bitter, but still delicious in their own way! Which is what appeals to this Sicilian guy here! Bitter is good and bitter is good for you!
Of course, there are ways of reducing the bitterness of greens like this- an example that usually works well, (so I've been told), is to cut the ends off and keep the greens submerged in ice water for a half hour or so. I will take their word for it that it works... that seems like too much time, too much trouble and more importantly... just plain silly. There is no reason to buy, cook and eat something that tastes bitter, then to go to great lengths to remove the bitterness! If you don't like bitter greens... buy spinach! Knock yourself out! But if you DO like them. then read on... and join the club!
I cut off the ends of the puntarelle stalks, washed them well and then steamed them for a good 10 minutes- and of course already the cooking reduces the bitterness too to an extent anyway. So after 10 minutes, they are almost cooked and tender- but not quite! But fear not- I had more work to do to finish them off and make then delicious- but first of all, I started a small saucepan full of water boiling to poach my egg! Because the rest takes next to no time!
I drained the puntarelle and then transferred them to a frying pan, where I added some finely chopped garlic, a splash of olive oil and the sun-dried tomatoes which I had cut into fine strips. I kept gently stirring them through and getting them equally coated in oil and seasoning, and whilst that was going on, I poached myself an egg on the other burner... easy.
After 4-5 minutes in the garlic and olive oil, the puntarelle had a lovely sheen, the tomatoes were soft, juicy and delicious and all that needed to be added was that perfectly poached egg... mmm! I sprinkled the egg with coarse pepper and a little sea salt, grabbed myself a slice of bread, a glass of red wine and enjoyed the mild but bitter flavor... and the chances are that you will enjoy it too!