I had never heard of agretti. Ever. I only happened upon it while strolling our local farmer’s market last week with my family. Having the desire to try new flavors, I saw this wildly beautiful bundle of what looked like land seaweed nestled amongst some herbs at an organic farm stand. Agretti, is also known as salsola soda; or friar’s beard. And that is exactly as it looks. It’s more commonly known over seas, and is a sought after vegetable for local restauranteurs. I found it to taste similar to spinach, loved the texture, and was quite pleased by my middle daughter excitedly exclaiming, “This is my new favorite vegetable!”
1 head of garlic, roasted
15 heirloom cherry tomatoes, oven roasted
8 oz. crimini and oyster mushrooms (variety optional); coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
8 oz. green beans
1 16-oz bag of fusilli pasta (or other pasta type)
1 bundle of agretti, (10-12 oz.) rinsed
1 lemon, juiced
5-6 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Directions for pasta dish:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice off the top of the head of garlic to expose some of the garlic cloves. Place the head into a piece of foil, and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, Roast until cloves are tender and lightly brown; about 30 minutes. Toss tomatoes with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper onto a sheet tray and roast for 15-20 minutes. The roasting will make the flavor burst. In a pan, toast pine nuts for 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning and to get a nice golden hue. Set aside. Remove seeds and ribs from bell pepper, and cut as a large dice. I like to use the same pan I toasted pine nuts in, to heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat, add bell peppers and chopped medley of mushrooms, and sauté for 10 minutes or until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. In a separate saucepan (one large enough for your pasta), place a steamer basket and fill pan with water just below steam basket. Bring to boil, and steam your green beans for about 5 minutes. You can use the same water you prepared your green beans in, making sure there is enough water, (about 5-6 quarts) to then cook your pasta. Add a pinch of salt to water, bring to boil, add 1 16-oz bag of fusilli pasta for 8 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, clean your agretti; removing any woody stems. You will add it to the cooking pasta in the 8th minute. Drain the pasta & agretti, and begin adding your prepared components to the final dish: whole roasted garlic cloves, roasted tomatoes, Sautéed mushrooms and red bell peppers, toasted pine nuts, steamed green beans, juice of one lemon, & toss dish with remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Salt & Pepper to taste. Rewarm if necessary. I like to top this all off with a basil pesto. Recipe below.
yield: 2 cups
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 cups of basil leaves, rinsed.
1 tsp. garlic
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp of salt, or to taste
1 Tbsp. of water to adjust texture (if you are using a blender)
1. Wash Basil . Toast pine nuts as in above recipe on medium heat for 3 minutes.
2. Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.