Roasted puntarelle - when simple really is more than good enough
Over the last few months, since running this blog again more regularly I have also noticed a positive side-effect. I seem to be spending less on food. I don’t think I am eating less and neither do I buy cheaper or food stuffs of inferior quality. It’s probably due to the fact that I throw away less. Actually hardly anything. It’s the middle of the month now and I look at my bank balance and wonder what’s going on. There is still so much money in my bank! I once heard the phrase: polish here and it shines there. My original intention of throwing away less food has rewarded me unexpectedly with saving money.
However since it seems to become more natural for me to avoid food waste I occasionally find it a bit challenging to come up with blog posts where I can share my experience of having saved anything from being thrown. Eleminating food waste in my kitchen starts to become second nature and I often dismiss an idea writing about something here, because I think it’s not relevant and probably won’t inspire people that much. Which I guess is a bit ignorant. You never really know what impact something you say or do has on other people.
My friend Karla recently sent me a note on Whatsapp before she was going on holiday. She took a photo of some vegetables roasting in the oven with seeds and nuts and shared that with me with the caption that she copied me. This really made my day.
So when I was struggling this week to come up with a post because I thought there was really nothing in my fridge that needed to be used up I thought I might just copy Karla coying me and make up a post about roasting vegetables in the oven. Choosing some limp and wilted items on the bottom of the crate that probably nobody will buy anymore. How could I be so ignorant? In fact I DID have something sitting in my crisper for several weeks that I promised myself I will use soon. It was part of a head of puntarelle (in Germany we also call it volcanic asparagus) that left me with decision fatigue for quite some time. Should I ferment it? Use it for a filling of a tart? Eat it raw in a salad? Days passed, weeks passed and it is only because I have moved into an apartment with a super fridge that kept it alive and green for so long. In the end I decided I have had enough of this food procrastination and decided I won’t go out and buy some more food when I have clearly enough in the bottom of the fridge to last me for a couple of meals.
I guess what blocked me and kept me procrastinating for so long was the fact that I wanted to make something amazing with it. Something that earned me at least three imaginary Michelin stars. How silly is that?! The Italians love to eat puntarelle very simple. When I bought the head in mid-March the stall keeper in Munich’s Leopoldstraße gave me some unsolicited advice on how to prepare it: “Just some olive oil, fennel and anchovy. That’s how we love it in Italy!”
It felt like a relief to let go of all these super complicated projects I was going to do with it. Just setting the oven on high, ripping the shoots apart, splashing it with some gluggs of olive oil and letting it do its thing in the oven for 20 minutes while preparing a simple dressing of fennel seeds, lemon zest (hello! there was half a lemon rescued here, shrivelling in my fridge!) and smashed anchovies. Life can be wonderful when I am keeping it simple and let go of my perfectionism! Have you had any experiences of letting go in the kitchen? Feel free to share it with me below!
puntarelle (or endive or radicchio)
lemon zest finely grated and lemon juice (optional)
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven on 180 degrees C fan. Rip the puntarelle into individual shoots (if using endive or radicchio cut into wedges) and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Splash with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. While the puntarelle is in the oven prepare the dressing. Smash 2-3 anchovies in the pestle and mortar (or smash with a fork on a plate) and mix with the lemon zest, lemon juice and fennel seeds. Dress the puntarelle with the dressing and serve.