(80 days) Open-pollinated. I love the enthusiasm of gardeners who, upon hearing I work for Fedco, regale me with tales of their favorite vegetables. Last year I was thus introduced to one I had yet to encounter: Puntarelle, a chicory grown for its stems, which join together at the base to form a swollen bulb-like vegetable. The sweet hollow stalks, with texture akin to celery, are harvested when young and tender and then sliced into spears and soaked in ice water, causing them to curl and become juicier. Make the salad called Puntarelle alla Romana by dressing them raw with anchovies, garlic, red wine and olive oil, which brings out their flavors: hints of arugula spiciness combined with fennel overtones. The frilly leaves can be stripped off and cooked separately, or the stems can be cooked as well and served with such traditional Italian fare as beans and pasta. Transplant or direct seed. Best grown in fall and harvested before frost. ②
Culture: Performs best in cool weather, spring or fall. Direct seed, thin to 1–2' apart.
Days to maturity are from direct seeding.
Culture: When to harvest greens? Research from trials conducted in England and Kenya showed looseleaf lettuce, red chard and arugula harvested in the evening had a longer shelf life than when picked in the morning.