Italian agretti is a spring vegetable also called barba del frate, (friar’s beard) because of its shape, which recalls, of course, a friar’s beard. It is a salty green heirloom herb with a succulent texture and a pleasant, slightly acidic taste. Actually, the name agretti comes from agro, which means sour. It grows well in the Mediterranean area, in soil rich in salt. Agretti is detoxifying, anti-aging and has dense nutrional value. In the past it was used as a source of soda (sodium bicarbonate) extracted from the ashes remaining after it was burned. I love to prepare agretti as a tasty side dish to accompany my main course. The addition of anchovy or bacon adds a special tang, but if you prefer, you can substitute those ingredients with grated Parmesan cheese added just before serving, which makes this a delicious vegetarian dish instead.
AGRETTI CON ACCIUGHE (AGRETTI WITH ANCHOVY)
600 g (21 oz) agretti
2 whole garlic cloves
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin)
4 anchovy fillets, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Cut off the reddish ends. Rinse several times under running cold water, then cook in a large pot with lightly salted water for about 15 minutes. Drain.
2. In a pan saute the garlic cloves in olive oil over medium heat. When the garlic is slightly brown, remove and add the anchovy fillets. Cook for about 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the agretti and cook for 1 minute. Serve hot. – Paola