The market was alive with commotion as the fruttivendoli :: fruit & vegetable vendors yelled out prices of their fresh produce. I took a paper ticket from the little red machine that orderly tamed the mobs of people that crowded around the plump artichokes, sun kissed oranges and leafy vegetables. As I waited for my number to be called out, my eyes roamed across the multitude of plastic containers piled high with bright colored fruits and vegetables stopping at last on a bunch of green grass.
“Che cos’è?” :: “What is it?” I asked an elderly woman standing next to me while pointing to the grassy vegetable.
“Agretti,” the woman replied. Also known in English as Salsola Soda or Opposite-Leaved Saltwort. (Agretti is pronounced as “Ah, gret, tee”)
The elderly woman continued to recount :: raccontare a simple recipe.
“First you chop of the roots, wash them well then boil them for about five to ten minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to keep the Agretti green then mix with lemon juice and olive oil.”
“Sounds delicious,” I thought to myself. “I have to try it.”
When I returned home, my curiosity :: curiosità got the best of me and at 10:00a.m. I was already in the kitchen cooking up this new and intriguing vegetable.
While some women :: donne get their high off of buying the latest pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, for me, I indulge in exotic produce. Is that lame or cool? I’m really not sure…
Agretti is also known as barba di frate, which can be translated to monks beard in English. What a weird name :: nome. Although when picked, they do resemble a bushy beard and monks typically did have vegetable gardens so I can presume where the name derived from.
In less then 15 minutes the bright green dish was ready. Talk about a great side for entertaining guests. As you may have already noticed :: notato, I speak often about recipes for large groups. One of my favorite things to do is host fuss-free dinner parties with high quality food.
Agretti is great served on a small dish or under a bed of fish like in my Striped Red Mullet recipe to give a dash of elegance :: eleganza.
What does agretti taste like? Certainty not like grass :: erba. I would say it greatly resembles the sharpness of spinach and when mixed with lemon and extra virgin olive oil it is quite refreshing.
If you need help getting your kids :: bambini to eat their vegetables, just add a face to a fork and let them create different hairstyles.
You don’t have to tell them that agretti is a super healthy vegetable that is full of vitamin A, iron and calcium. Who would have thought that eating your vegetables could be so much fun :: divertente!
*If your kids are young, attach the face to the stem of the fork so there is no risk that they eat the paper.
- 1 tablespoon course salt
- 2 bunches agretti (Salsola Soda/Opposite-Leaved Saltwort)
- ¾ medium lemon, juiced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the course salt then the agretti. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until tender. Drain then combine with lemon juice and olive oil. Serve warm or cold.