Beetroot and puntarelle with anchovy sauce

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Puntarelle is another member of the family and one which looks wild and weedy, like a straight-leaved frisée. It's popular in Italy, where it's used on pasta and matched with strong ingredients such as anchovies, or with sweet and sour flavours. That's because both the green leaves and cluster of hollow white stalks in the centre (the best bit) are bitter, although a good soak in iced water will tone down the bitterness.

Puntarelle is another member of the family and one which looks wild and weedy, like a straight-leaved frisée. It's popular in Italy, where it's used on pasta and matched with strong ingredients such as anchovies, or with sweet and sour flavours. That's because both the green leaves and cluster of hollow white stalks in the centre (the best bit) are bitter, although a good soak in iced water will tone down the bitterness.

1 head of puntarelle
4 small raw beetroots weighing about 200-250g in total
2tsp sugar
8 good quality anchovy fillets, chopped
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2tsp thyme leaves
2tbsp red wine vinegar
4tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the beetroots in a pan and cover well with water, add half a tablespoon of salt, bring to the boil and simmer for 11/2 hours, or until tender.

Cut the root off the puntarelle and discard any thick green outer leaves. Loosen all the hollow inner stems with the small leaves attached and the remaining outer leaves and immerse in iced water for about 30 minutes, then drain. The outer leaves without stems can be kept for wilting into a pasta with some butter and cheese.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil with a couple of teaspoons of sugar and simmer the inner stems for 2-4 minutes until they still have a bit of bite, drain and leave to cool.

Meanwhile put the shallots, thyme and vinegar in a saucepan with an equal amount of water and simmer gently for 1 minute until reduced by half, then add the olive oil and season. Peel the beetroots and cut into wedges and arrange on plates with the puntarelle. Mix the anchovies with the dressing and spoon over the vegetables. Serve at room temperature.

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