Reading a review of Our Life in Gardens, by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd, in today's New York Times Book Review section, I came to this:

From the vegetable garden come golden celery, purple Brussels sprouts and puntarelle, 'the stems of which you can slit and soak in ice water until they curl, and then dress with olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar and lots of mashed anchovies.'

It's almost as exciting as discovering another Marsalis brother, don't you think? Add puntarelle to arugula, broccoli, broccoli rabe, radicchio, zucchini...Italian vegetables, once unknown, that now delight.

Puntarelle is called a "chicory"...with shoots to be picked while young and tender, and a "dandelion...great cooked like asparagus," so we can guess puntarelle has a bit of bite.

Dreaming of an Italian vegetable garden? We can hope puntarelle won't become a kudzu-style invader, since none of the other Italian vegetables has yet escaped into the wild...though I have heard of gardeners who have nightmares about zucchini taking over entire counties and towns. The "dandelion" part does make me wonder, too.

Any vegetable that resembles asparagus is one I want to try. Fortunately, affordable seeds can be found in the USA in at least these places, according to our friend Google:

Seed sources for puntarelle:

Rare Seeds, Mansfield, Missouri

Gourmet Seeds, Tatum, New Mexico

European seed companies also offer the seeds, and in the case of Seeds of Italy, seem to offer puntarelle seeds from two different Italian locations, Catalogna and Brindisi.

Photo Credit: dystortia: Thank you!