Sunday, 3 May 2015

Oven-Baked Salad!

Puntarelle Ripiene al Forno
Stuffed, Baked Puntarelle (with Ground Pork & Fennel Seed)

It was so sunny and nice yesterday, that I got a little ahead of myself and presumed to by salad greens and ground meat to make burgers with today... Silly me! I should have known it was going to be freezing cold and pouring with rain the whole day today!

So what did I do? Well, basically I put the burger into the salad and baked it! Sounds crazy, is crazy and was a lot of fun too- as well as tasting crazy-good!

 I just did not like the sound of salad on such a cold and rainy day... And I don't know exactly what happened to make me think of doing so... But I came up with the idea of taking one of the assorted greens I had bought , the wonderful Puntarelle or Italian wild chicory- and filling the crispy inner 'pods" with the ground meat instead!

And doesn't that look nice and inviting on a cold and rainy day? You betcha! Especially when baked on a bed of juicy and aromatic tomatoes... It definitely seemed like a much better idea to this fellow over here... Plus it was FUN!

So, I had one small head of puntarelle, 200g of ground pork, 4 plum tomatoes, a little fresh basil and oregano, 1 shallot, 1-2 tablespoons of bread crumbs, a little salted ricotta and that was all I needed to make something quite different to what I would have, had the sun been shining!

And in retrospect... I am almost glad that it didn't!


An alternative, should you not be able to get puntarelle where you live, which is most probably the case, would be to use endives, which have a very similar taste and texture, but are of course much larger in comparison. But I was lucky to have had the puntarelle... And am glad that I had the opportunity to try this!


I began by snapping the separate "pods" from the main stalk, trimming the ends a little and then halving them length ways.


For the filling, I added salt, pepper, fennel seeds and 1/2 of the finely chopped shallot to the ground pork and kneading it thoroughly together.


And then I simply filled each of the halves of the puntarelle with the seasoned ground pork, pressing it in firmly.


I turned on the oven to the highest setting to get it ready for baking and then got busy with the tomatoes, which I chopped and added to my baking dish along with the herbs, basil and oregano and some salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. I also added just a tiny drop of water, just to help get some steam going during baking, to help everything cook quicker and better.


And then it was simply a matter of laying the puntarelle out on top in a decorative manner... It is not one of the prettiest meals and so it is worth a little extra effort! It is just "one of those" meals that taste better than they look!


I then coated the meat with a generous sprinkle of bread crumbs and grated it lightly with salted ricotta, before covering it with foil and kissing it goodbye for 40 minutes at 200 C. After 40 minutes, I removed the foil and let them become crispy-topped and golden brown!


And the best part was that there was a lovely, herb-infused tomato side-dish right beneath them! All I needed then was a slice of bread and a glass of wine... And dinner was complete!


Sure... Burgers are fun, but this was just so much better today and even more fun! And I still have that other lettuce and the ground beef for another day! Haha!


  1. Interesting! I do hope you'll come over to Food on Friday: Salads to bring this to the party! Cheers from Carole's Chatter

  2. Thanks Carole, I'm glad you like it! :-) Francesco