Monday, 11 January 2016

Reds, Whites and Greens

Puntarelle & Ceci 
Puntarelle & Chickpeas

I love puntarelle, the Roman cousins of the typical, Southern Italian wild chicory, "cicoria" or "catalogna" as it is also known- but had discovered a love for them also in cooked form and not only eaten raw as a salad, as the Romans do... as wonderful as that is!

Their bitter taste, reminiscent of radicchio, is counterparted by the fact that they are so juicy at the same time- and it is that bitter-sweet combination that I love so much!

I made this humble, but delicious meal this evening, combining the strong and tasty greens with mild and satisfying chickpeas... with a few little extras to make them even more wonderful still!

With just 1 small head of puntarelle, 1 can of chickpeas, 1 shallot, 2 sun-dried tomatoes, 1 handful of finely chopped bacon, a little salt, pepper, nutmeg, oregano and olive oil, you can have a wonderful meal for 2 ready in just 30 minutes. Which is a pretty wonderful thing!

If you can't get punterelle where you are, you can substitute with chicory or radicchio, dandelion greens or any other slightly bitter greens... it's all about the combination of flavors and the combination is simply good!

Remove the outer leaves and set them to one side, then seperate the pods on the interior of the puntarelle and cut them in half so that they are easier to cook. Sautée them in olive oil with plenty of nutmeg, salt and pepper until they become slightly darker in color and a little translucent.

Now add the leaves and a splash of water- just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, put on the lid and allow them to steam whilst you prepare the chickpeas.

Let them cook away and soften in their own juices- and after around 15 minutes they will look like this- tender and delicious!

In the meantime, finely chop the shallot and fry it with the bacon, until the bacon is brown and the shallot translucent, then add the chickpeas including the juices, salt, pepper and a good pinch of oregano. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 15 minutes also.

Add a dash of olive oil to the chickpeas before serving and enjoy piping hot!

Simple, peasant food maybe... but SO good and comforting! Just what we all need on a cold, Winter night!

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