Asparagus Puntarelle Style

5 mins active15 mins totalServes 2-3
Puntarelle—a bitter chicory you can find at markets all over Southern Italy this time of year—is the cornerstone of a Roman classic. It's served in curly ribbons and tossed with an umami-packed dressing of garlic, anchovy and parmigiano cheese. We found ourselves jonesing for a version of that salad, but without any puntarelle on hand we swapped in asparagus. The result was so good that we almost forgot it was a substitution in the first place!


1 bunch Asparagus

1 large or 2 small cloves Garlic

2-3 fillets of Anchovy, deboned

3-4 tbsp Olive Oil

1 Lemon

Parmigiano Reggiano

Step 1

Place a steamer basket or a metal colander inside a large pot. Fill the pot with water to just below the steamer basket. Squeeze half a lemon into the water; cover it and bring to a boil over high heat.

Step 2

When water is boiling and the pot is full of steam, add asparagus (spear-side up) with tongs and re-cover the pot, making sure to seal all the steam inside. Let steam for 3-5 minutes, until the thickest part of the stalk is tender but still a bit crunchy. Remove asparagus spears from steamer, spread out on a plate in one layer and place in the refrigerator to cool.

Step 3

While asparagus is steaming, pound garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle. Add anchovies to the garlic—we like a nice strong anchovy flavor, but if you prefer a milder hint of anchovy, stick to 2 fillets—and continue to pound it with the pestle until well-combined. Then whisk in olive oil and the juice of the remaining lemon half.

Step 4

After asparagus has cooled for 5 minutes in the fridge, toss spears with a tablespoon or two of the garlic-oil mixture until just covered. Garnish with any remaining dressing and finish with a few strips of Parmigiano shaved thinly over the dish.