Agretti & Mixed Veggie Pasta

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!”

Ingredients:

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.

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Pesto Recipe:

yield: 2  cups

Ingredients:

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)

Directions:

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.

 

 

 

 

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