As a member of the chicory family, the slender, serrated leaves of the puntarelle have many of the same distinctive tastes and characteristics as its plant relatives. Its crisp leaves are said to have the spiciness of arugula with hints of fennel, and the shoots have the texture of celery. Puntarelle is traditionally used raw in salads and is classically served with a heavy dressing, often with anchovies, that helps sweeten its bitter notes. Some chefs recommend soaking the leaves in water for a few hours before cooking, allowing the leaves to curl, becoming juicier and less tart.
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