There are countless reasons to love springtime in central Italy, and one of them is definitely Agretti.
A vegetable that grows in marshes, agretti originated in the Lazio region and was considered cucina povera by ancient Romans. But not any more. This unusual green (like a cross between a grass and a succulent) is now a sought-after specialty throughout central Italy – but only in spring and early summer.
Here’s my favorite way:
- Trim off the root ends of the agretti and discard any yellow or brown stems.
- Wash the leaves well in cold water.
- Place the agretti (about 1/2 pound) in a large saute pan and add 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 peperoncino or dash of hot pepper flakes, 1 clove of garlic (crushed), sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
- Pour a healthy splash of water into the pan, turn on flame and bring the agretti to a simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the agretti is wilted.
- Serve as a side dish and enjoy hot or at room temperature.
And the flavor? My husband says sort of like spinach. I say more earthy. But we both agree on delicious!