Agretti also known as ‘monks beard’ is apparently ‘the Italian vegetable that chefs are fighting about’. Well I’m not entirely sure if chefs are literally getting hurt over it, but I was certainly intrigued to give it a try when my Mother told me that she had tonnes of the stuff growing in the walled garden. When I popped over to pick some, the first thing I noticed was that it’s appearance was very similar to samphire, it also tasted a little salty. I chopped off the hard roots and thoroughly washed the green edible part of the vegetable. Once cooked it looked a bit like grass and had the texture and smell of spinach. With little more knowledge than I’ve just described, I boiled up some spaghetti and tossed in some pancetta, parmesan and the cooked agretti.
This recipe serves 2
Small bunch of fresh agretti (if you can find any. Please don’t hurt any chefs)
200g dried spaghetti
80g smoked pancetta (diced)
50g grated parmesan (plus extra for serving)
Extra virgin olive oil
- Boil the washed, trimmed and prepared Agretti for 5 or 6 minutes.
- Drain in a sieve and set aside.
- Cook spaghetti as per pack instructions.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan and fry the pancetta until it is just starting to turn golden. Stir in the Agretti.
- With a slotted spoon transfer the spaghetti to the pan with the pancetta and Agrettt. Stir in the parmesan and combine everything together.
- Serve on to plates, sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top and season with black pepper.