The cafe where I work at just got a sample of chicory catalogna. It's similar to puntarelle or sometimes considered a variety of puntarelle, if that even helps. Epicurious described it as "one of the greatest treats of springtime in Rome." Photo from chardgirl's Mariquita website below (hope you don't mind, chardgirl), as well as a link to her website w/ lots of wonderful photos and recipes. (Disclaimer: I am friendly w/ chardgirl through CH and we get some of her amazing produce at work.)
I've never tried it before, but tore off some of the green leafy part and tasted. Sharp and herbal w/ a pleasant lemony bitterness in the finish. Some found it very bitter, but I thought it wasn't nearly as bitter as dandelion or radicchio I've bought from the farmer's market. So I took a couple bunches home to experiment with.
Looking up recipes for puntarelle, it looks like it's commonly used raw in salads w/ some sort of anchovy dressing to offset the bitterness. Sounds good to me, and I may just try that tonight and bring in to work tomorrow.
I was wondering if there are other good uses for it? Is it ever sauteed or cooked in some way? I don't want to dumb it down, but what would one mix it w/ to make it more appealing to less adventurous palates? Thanks for your wisdom!