I didn’t think we had tried these before, but lo and behold, we had in 2008 in Florence. Memory where have you gone? This time around we prepared them slightly differently.
- Clean the agretti. Separate the green part (to eat) from the pink/white part (to compost).
- Boil in salted water for a couple of minutes.
- While still a little bit crunchy, take them from the water and refresh in cold water. Drain well.
- Sauté some pancetta and garlic in olive oil. Put the agetti in with the pancetta and cook briefly at high heat to finish.
- (Lemon juice might be nice, but we forgot this time.)
The agretti turned out delicious, having a bit more punch than spinach. We had them as a side dish with a frittata.
Agretti are Salsola soda in the Amaranth family. They are supposedly known by barba di frate or just soda, but we’ve only ever seen them advertised as agretti. Agretti and other saltworts were an important source of soda ash, hence the species name. Sorry, didn’t think to bring the four volume Quattrocchi with me to Italy, or else I would look up the etymology of Salsola, thought it sounds an awful like Salsoul.
The agretti we bought at our local fruttivendolo were from Lazio, L'agretto Dell'agro.