Agretti, Not Grass

by Annie

As happens this time of year, the puntarelle season is nearing its end, so it’s sadly out with one… but in with another.

Agretti are beginning to show up at the market stalls (crate in the lower left hand corner); this is good, not just good . . great! Agretti (aka Barilla Plant, Opposite Leaved Saltwort or Russian Thistle, in English) say the seasons are changing, that springtime will soon be here. And it’s not just their timing that says so but their lively, slightly tart . . ‘sunnier’ flavor as well.

While they are actually a very tender native Mediterranean succulent, what they actually look like is . . . well . . . grass. You wouldn’t think of eating these at first glance, but when cleaned of their roots, steamed for 5 minutes, and served still slightly warm with some olive oil and lemon, you’ll finish your plate and be wanting more.

An all time favorite is the frittata con agretti. Lightly sauté some agretti in olive oil and garlic, and then pour the mixed eggs over them. That’s all . . but with some proper bread and a glass of wine . . what a lunch!

Still a bit pricey, as their season comes on full steam the price will begin to drop, but buying and eating un mazzetto now, (a small bundle) is a great way to momentarily cheat winter and feel that spring is already here.

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