Freshly cooked penne pasta with bitter puntarelle chicory greens, anchovy and pecorino cheese is a good, simple pasta to make when bitter greens are in season.
Unlike the most famous insalata de puntarelle, this pasta uses the mature greens of the plant as opposed to the tender heart of unopened buds.
If the heart is all that you have, you can also use it too. Just make sure you try the traditional salad in the future as it's excellent.
How to make it
There's two easy steps: cooking the puntarelle or other greens, then cooking into a simple sauce for pasta.
Cut the puntarelle greens into 1 inch pieces, saving the heart to make puntarelle salad if desired. Blanch the greens in boiling salted water, squeeze dry, and reserve.
Heat sliced garlic in a cold pan until golden brown. Add the anchovy and stir it in with the chili. Add the greens and mix, then the tomato. Finally add the pasta and toss to coat with the sauce.
There's lots of different greens you can use here. Puntarelle is great, but other bitter greens are good too. It's a great place to show of the classic Italian erbe selvatiche, or wild edible weeds you'll see in recipes like Ligurian Pansotti and Prebboggion: The Wild Edible Plants of Liguria. Here's a few examples:
- Dandelion greens
- Bitter mustard greens
Puntarelle Pasta with Anchovy and Pecorino
- 1 Pasta pot
- 1 chefs knife for cutting the puntarelle
- 1 10 inch saute pan
- 4 oz dried pasta such as ziti or penne or 8 oz cooked pasta
- 1 large clove garlic thinly sliced
- 1 oz 1 tablespoon anchovy fillets, chopped
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil or light olive oil
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for serving
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup tomato sauce or a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes
- Grated pecorino cheese to taste
- 6 oz puntarelle or other bitter greens, cut into 1 inch pieces
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a pot of salted water for pasta to a boil. Blanch the chicory in the water for 3-4 minutes, or until just tender. Remove the chicory and drain.
- Heat the garlic and oils in a cold 10 pan on medium low heat. Cook until the garlic slices are golden, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the anchovy and crushed red chili and stir.
- Add the cooked chicory greens, mix, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the tomato sauce and mix to combine. Cover and cook on medium low heat until the greens are tender and taste good to you.
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, then drain, reserving some of the cooking water.
- Add the pasta and a splash of pasta water to the pan with the puntarelle. Toss to combine and put back on the heat for a minute.
- Season to taste with salt and chili until it tastes good to you. Divide the pasta between 2 heated serving bowls. Serve with grated pecorino cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.