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George Jun 30, 2006 08:31 PM

Another question for LA hounds: I need something to go with my carbonara (see posting from last night). I love my local farmers market (the small one in Plummer Park, West Hollywood, Mondays), and find a plethora of bitter greens especially from Asian farmers, many of which remain nameless for me but make their way to my kitchen and belly.

But I am wondering if anyone has encountered anyone growing and selling puntarelle in Los Angeles. This is a famous Roman salad green, related to chicory I think, and perhaps seasonal to the colder weather months. The Romans soak it in ice water so that it curls up like wayward spaghetti, or pig's tails, and crisp and delicious it is bathed in a garlic and anchoivy dressing. It is one of my other favorite things.

Before I moved here from NY, some had started to sell it in the Union Square farmers market, and some Manhattan restaurants had started to serve it, making my foraging trips to Bensonhurst a thing of the past. I figure someone has to be growing this in California?

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  1. f
    FED RE: George Jun 30, 2006 08:45 PM

    i don't know of anyone growing it in socal. it is a winter crop. there's a big radicchio grower in the monterey area who was growing puntarelle as a project, but i don't know if that is ongoing. i don't think i've ever seen it in a fm.

    1. George RE: George Jun 30, 2006 10:12 PM

      I just searched the SF board. THEY seem to be able to buy it up there...In the winter, like you say. I'm sad. LA is greens paradise, no? Is the issue that my paisans are up there, not down here, in numbers, I wonder? But I thought Los Angeles loved all things really Italian. I'm sure puntarelle would catch on here.

      No one has seen them at the Santa Monica or Hollywood farmer's markets?

      1. j
        JudiAU RE: George Jun 30, 2006 11:19 PM

        I have enjoyed it in SF restaurants (Olivetto and others) and seen it in Ferry market and have never seen it at our markets. It is a terrific green. I saw it once on a menu last winter at Campanille, maybe? Not sure.

        The closest seasonal aprox. is probably curly chicory mixed with dandelion.

        1. e
          EAO RE: George Jul 1, 2006 01:47 AM

          This is wild Roman Chickory (so Judi's rec would work well) and it is a late fall eary winter green. You will see a fantastic version of this salad on the menu at Vincenti Restaurant starting late October - February.

          My understanding is that they are farming this as a new type of crop in Northern California - Fresno area which is why it gets to the SF markets first in the fall. My understanding from farmers is that they started to bring limited amounts of it in to the LA markets last fall. So keep watch.

          1. f
            FED RE: George Jul 1, 2006 04:54 PM

            the flavor of puntarelle is kind of like a chicory or dandelion, but the texture is not. puntarelle is very crisp, in fact, it's the stems that give it the character. for that reason, the best substitute in my mind would be celery. this works really well with the classic dressing of anchovies and olive oil. i think the biggest grower of puntarelle is still european vegetable specialtiies, which is based in salinas. here's some info

            3 Replies
            1. re: FED
              JudiAU RE: FED Jul 1, 2006 10:34 PM

              The excellent salad I've had a few times at Oliveto was dressed with anchovy/garlic/olive oil with perhaps an egg yolk in the emulsion.

              1. re: JudiAU
                FED RE: JudiAU Jul 2, 2006 06:12 PM

                i'm not sure how they do it at oliveto, but it's very good simply with canned anchovies pureed with garlic, a little lemon and olive oil. couldn't be simpler, but really tasty.

              2. re: FED
                George RE: FED Jul 2, 2006 04:25 PM

                I emailed European Vegetable specialities. I was told they sell it to the "produce market" in LA (what is that?), and that it is indeed only available from them from October through March. They encouraged me to let my grocery store know about them and about the vegetable, and see if they will order it for me from them. I will try this fall ...

              3. George RE: George Jan 19, 2007 02:35 AM

                I wanted to reactivate this post now that it is winter. Anyone see any puntarelle at any LA markets this winter?

                1 Reply
                1. re: George
                  msimone RE: George Oct 27, 2009 09:48 AM

                  You can buy some at Sunland Produce in Sun Valley. Phone 818 504-6629.

                2. Bon Vivant RE: George Jan 19, 2007 02:41 AM

                  I've bought it at Claro's in San Gabriel. I made the traditional Roman salad out of it (the stuff grown in Italy is much nicer). This was a while back so I don't know if they still sell it.


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