Warm Puntarelle Salad with Toasted Nuts

Dear Didi,
In another of my efforts to try out a new vegetable available in the fresh-food market here, of which I had previously read about, the warm puntarelle salad happened! Yesterday night I tested the Puntarelle, an Italian variety of Endives on Niloy and we both loved it.    The leaves taste a little bitter if eaten raw like the other endives.  This is why one should take of the leaves (discard them), and soak the shoots in cold water till they curl.  But I didn’t want to waste such beautiful looking leaves.  So we tasted the leaves first and both decided that we were not ready for a plate of bitter salad. I turned the whole leaves into a warm salad instead of taking out and throwing the leaves.

Warm Puntarelle Salad (a variety of Endives)

Treating each leaf as a prized possession I carefully washed a bunch of Puntarelles to get off all the grime in it (the amount of soil these veggies contain here might clog-up my kitchen drain one day! But its fine, anything for the love of food! Right?).

While the leaves were being soaked, I quickly dry-roasted a handful of pistachios, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in a pan for that almost perfect brown tint and then crushed them coarsely.  The two cloves of garlic that were waiting for my attention were then gruesomely chopped and thrown in 1tbsp of heated olive oil.  When the pan made the garlic pieces and the oil sizzle, the Puntarelle leaves quietly followed to be blanched to perfection.  Once the leaves were tender, I threw them in cold water so that they retain their lovely fresh green color and transformed the ripe avocado and the juicy apple into small dices.  Did you know it is always best to cut apples right before you serve or else the iron in them oxidizes and one is left with brown apple pieces? If not, now you know 🙂

All the ingredients looked perfect for arrangement by then.  In a medium-sized salad bowl I laid the Puntarelle leaves, put some nuts, the apple, the avocado and seasoned it with salt, fresly ground pepper, dried mint powder and a dash of lime juice.

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It is difficult to get these endives in India, but do try this recipe with lettuce.  You don’t have to have it warm though..it would be lovely with crunchy leaves too 🙂 If you are making it raw, I suggest you add some finely grated garlic in the lime juice, whisk it well with a fork and then pour it over the leaves.  Do try it out!

So till the next time,

Take care and happy cooking!

Dakhina