Saturday, 28 March 2015

Bakin' Your Salad with Bacon!

Spiedini di Puntarelle in Pancetta & Miele con Patate al Limone & Menta
Skewered Bacon & Honey Puntarelle with Lemon & Mint Roast Potatoes


Apparently, Springtime begins tomorrow, which is why I bought these lovely puntarelle, in order to make a nice salad. And then made these with them instead! You can't beat a nice, Vegetarian dish, finished with a little crispy bacon! I'm telling you!

This was similar to the classic dish of white chicory wrapped in ham with steamed and buttered potatoes... only much, much better! Even if I do say so myself!


I know that bacon is a little bit naughty, when we start talking calories... but it is sooo nice, when we start talking flavor! And as the puntarelle, or any other kind of chicory for that matter has next to no calories... I figured... why on Earth not?!?


Basically, quantities of ingredients are not important here- it is just the combination and the method that you need to know.

Puntarelle come in very different sizes, and the individual "pods", that I wrapped in bacon here, vary vastly from one plant to the next. They need to be of a large enough size to make it worthwhile wrapping them- around 3" in length I would say. And you will need just a half of a rasher of lean and thinly sliced bacon for each

You could alternatively use regular chicory or "endives" and cut them into quarters to make this.

Other than that, you will need potatoes of course, lemon and mint. And for seasoning and finishing off, you will need salt, pepper, nutmeg and good olive oil.


Although it is very simple, it is totally delicious and light- perfect for a Springtime supper! I just wish the weather would realize that it is time to start getting its act together!!!


I began by washing the puntarelle and cutting away the separate pods, then selecting the largest ones for this dish... and nibbling on the others whilst I prepared the rest...

I peeled and cut the potatoes into quarters and popped them into a saucepan and then turned on the oven to get it nice and hot and ready in advance.


I added half of a lemon cut into 6ths, 3-4 leaves of mint, plenty of salt and enough boiling water to cover them and then let the potatoes boil for 20 minutes on a gentle rolling simmer.


In the meantime, I chopped some zests up to use as a garnish and flavoring later, then squeezed juice over the puntarelle before wrapping them in bacon.

I simply wrapped the rasher around each one and where it overlapped, allowed about 1" more and cut it with kitchen scissors... easiest way to do it! And yes it is delicious- but there is no need to use any more than you need... What do I always say? Less is more!

The idea with the skewer, was actually a spur of the moment decision! The only reason that it is REALLY there, is to keep the bacon in place and to prevent it from unrolling as it shrinks whilst cooking. So rather than use individual toothpicks, which would have been the other alternative-a skewer it was!


I seasoned the rolls with plenty of coarsely ground pepper, placed the skewers into a baking dish and added a little water. I then covered the dish and let the puntarelle sit and cook and steam for 15 minutes at 200°C.


After 20 minutes of boiling, the potatoes were perfectly tender and packed with flavor from the lemon and the mint. Being a spend-thrift, I use the foil that I had used to cover the puntarelle and laid the potatoes and lemon out on it, added a good drizzle of olive oil, more pepper, a little freshly grated nutmeg and a last sprinkle of pepper... and into the oven they went at 180°C for 20-25 minutes or so, until they became golden and delicious.


Once they had cooked through, I took the puntarelle out of the oven and added a light drizzle of honey and a grind of pepper to each, before returning them, so that the honey could caramelize and the bacon would become super- crispy... and delicious!


And when they were finished, the puntarelle looked a little bit like this!


I added a little finely chopped mint to the potatoes and the finely chopped lemon zest to the greens... and dinner was served!


Despite that little bit of oh-so-important and oh-so delicious bacon, this was a light meal, full of flavor and refreshing and simple. You couldn't really ask for more!


What a treat- and more than good enough to eat!

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