I cooked it in boiling water for only a couple of minutes and served it dressed with just olive oil and lemon juice.
Perfect. Simple, but perfect.
Afterwards, I kept my eye out for it, but it only seems to be around for a very short time.
Then, early last year on a trip back to the UK, I saw a whole article on it in a newspaper. I learnt that it was called Monk’s Beard in English and I saw a recipe for pickling it. The recipe looked enticingly easy and only had two ingredients: agretti and white wine vinegar.
As airlines are cracking down on luggage weight and as my bag was already up to its limit, I only tore out the tiny piece with the pickling recipe.
It is now back in season. I’ve already made the olive oil and lemon juice version a couple of times, but thought I’d try the pickle. I wanted to share the recipe here, but my cutting gave no indication of the author, the date or the publication. So I didn’t know who to credit. Thank goodness for the internet. I found all three straight away: It was written by Skye Gyngell and it appeared in the Independent on Sunday, 18th March, 2007. She also gives recipes for:
Agretti with Portobello mushrooms and creme fraiche on bruschetta
Scallops with agretti and chilli oil
Crab with agretti, winter purslane and green sauce
1) Prepared the agretti by removing the tough stalks, washing it and patting it dry.
2) Packed it into sterilised jars.
3) Topped the jars up with white wine vinegar.
4) Placed jars in a dark place where they’ll stay for two weeks before going into the fridge for long-term storage. (I’m writing this now because, if you want to try it, it may not still be available in two week’s time.)
I bought the agretti yesterday at the market in Apiro on a very sunny Palm Sunday.
Everyone was going about their usual business, but with an olive branch in hand.
Just recently, Rowena at ‘Rubber Slippers in Italy’ introduced me to another spring green: Catalogna Spigata. There it was, right next to the agretti. I would have missed it completely had it not been for her post. Now I can try her recipe for Punterelle alla Romana.
Apiro: Porta Garibaldi