beet/fresh cheese salad with
agretti in sushi, photo by Bunrab
before we get started with the recipes, two more bunrab agretti photo/ideas: || || the first photo is of agretti pickles (see recipe below) and the second is a crudo plate of freshest raw fish, chopped agretti, and other delights.
Andy's article on agretti
Sometimes mislabeled as marsh grass, or glasswort, this is a different plant altogether.
I can't find recipes for it, and agretti just means ‘little sour one' so other references to ‘agretti' that are referencing sea bream etc. in England aren't wrong, it's just a different plant than the one we here at Mariquita Farm call agretti.
So: look at the photo above, and taste the plant. We enjoy it as a salad green mixed with escarole or lettuce, or on it's own. I also wash and chop it and add it to my weekly grain salad.
I've made agretti the way I would chard or broccoli: chopped and sautéed with olive oil, garlic, S & P and chile flakes. Standard fare at this point, but really good. I then tucked this prepared/cooked up agretti into quesadillas and it worked well!
I also gave some agretti to our good friend John Mauceri, our resident Italian. He tried it with eggs because he saw some ideas in Italian on the web that agretti is good with eggs. BUT John (who I think has a great sense of taste) found the agretti ‘disconcerting' with eggs. So he tried the following:
Pasta tossed with a cheesy roux (yes, glorified mac and cheese) cooked up with some shredded ginger and a bit of chopped jalapeno. Then he tossed the nearly finished dish with 2 inch lengths of agretti: he said it was GREAT. Beautiful too.
Please send me (via email) your ideas of how you use agretti! Thanks. -julia
Lemon-Garlic-Agretti Pizza with Rosemary and Chevre
from Holly B.:
This is a light pizza with no sauce and only goat cheese. Fresh dough for the crust and good olive oil make this good, so don't try it with a premade crust whatever you do!
Bake a quick pizza crust from scratch (recipe below), and brush it lightly with olive oil when it comes out of the oven. Sprinkle generously with chopped fresh herbs (rosemary was yummy but use whatever you want). Saute minced garlic or green garlic and agretti in a little olive oil. When its done cooking, squeeze a few drops of lemon juice onto it and stir it in. Spread agretti evenly over crust, then put lots of small rounds or dollops of chevre all over the pizza. Bake at 350 until goat cheese has softened a bit and the pizza is smelling delicious (not long, maybe 5 minutes or so)
quick, easy pizza crust (makes 1 large crust)
Preheat oven to 400. Combine 3/4 cup bread flour (or all purpose, just not something really heavy or whole grain-y), 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp instant or quick-rise yeast. Add 2/3 cup warm (not hot) water and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir until smooth. Gradually add enough flour to make a soft dough (about 3/4 cup, but use less if you can make a manageable dough out of less, depends on the flour). Knead on lightly floured surface for 3-4 minutes. Let dough rest 20 minutes in a lightly oiled bowl. After 20 minutes, turn dough onto lightly floured surface and form into crust. Place on preheated pizza stone or baking sheet, sprinkled with cornmeal so it doesn't stick. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on how thick you made your crust. You want it to be baked all the way through because you won't bake it much after the toppings are on... crispy light crust is better than soggy floppy crust so bake it til its really done! (if it starts to dry out you can brush it with olive oil earlier, partway thru baking, instead of afterwards)
Please keep the agretti coming! I finally sauteed it up last night in some olive oil and roasted garlic and am now an agretti adict! I need more agretti.
Thanks, Michele B.
I made a kim chee with the agretti in the box last week & it turned out great as a pickle/condiment: steam trimmed agretti (cut into about 1” pieces) for about 1.5 minutes; mix together about 1/3 c rice vinegar, 1/4 c water, 1 t. (or less) sugar, & salt (experiment with these measurements…to taste) & microwave for 30 seconds or so before adding to agretti. Refrigerate – it will last for a few days.
I’d never heard of this vegetable & now we love it! - Linda in Live Oak
I had a bunch of orach left from last week, so I combined it with agretti in this fabulous wilted salad. The scallions and garlic are from our box, too.
Remove orach stems and toss with 2 Tbs dry sherry, 2 Tbs rice vinegar & some salt.
Blanch the agretti 1-2 minutes, drain, rinse with cool water and toss with orach. Set aside.
Heat @ 4 Tbs olive oil in a skillet, add 1/4 - 1/3 lb bay scallops (rinsed) along with some sliced scallions, chopped garlic, a few shakes of red pepper flakes, and about 2 tsp chopped fresh ginger. Saute til scallops are opaque.
Pour scallops with hot oil over the agretti-orach and toss til orach wilts a bit. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired. YUM!
If you don't eat seafood, use a bit less oil and it will still be very good! -Carolyn C
This one was a hit at the family pot-luck Saturday. The only question was "why didn't you get more agretti?" Disgustingly simple too.
Toasted Sesam Oil
Clean and break agretti bunches into smaller bunches. Blanch in boiling water for a few minutes (no more than 5) until tender, but still a bit crunchy. Rinse in cold water and dry a bit with a paper towel. Tos with a brizzle os sesame oil and a drizzle of soy sauce. Yummers!
Here's a recipe (Lucullian Delights blog)
And another. (Rubber Slippers in Italy blog)
and another (Gia-Gina Across the Pond blog)
Recipe for Crab with Spagetti and Agretti
The Cooker's idea for agretti Parathas!
from Marcus at Eats for One: Agretti is dead simple to prepare. I sautéed green garlic and sliced leek in plenty of olive oil, added the agretti, covered and cooked for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
from Mary H: This was my first time cooking with agretti. Thank you for always having something interesting to try! I wanted to share with you the recipe I made as it turned out very yummy! My 4 and 9 year old daughters LOVED it! :
Sesame Agretti Salad
I sauted about 4 Tbs of chopped leek in olive oil, then added the agretti cut into 1inch lengths. I added a liberal amount of crushed black pepper and a splash of water and covered to cook on low temp for about 10 minutes. It tasted very good at this point, but I then refrigerated it and later turned it into a cold salad by adding sesame oil and sesame seeds and WOW! it was perfect. Like a japanese salad with the perfect amount of salt (none added as the agretti naturally has its own saltiness).
from Lorraine L: I cooked ours very simply: trimmed the largest root ends off, and
blanched if for 2-3 minutes in lightly salted water, then dressed it
with meyer lemon juice and minced peel and a peppery olio nuovo. It
was really tasty (though the kids thought I made pine needle salad)!
I made a yummy recipe with the Agretti last week. It's similar to a southern style green bean recipe I like.
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 bag Agretti, cut into 2 inch pieces (about 8 cups)
1 Onion, diced
1/4 lb bacon or 2 tbsp bacon fat
1 pinch red pepper flakes
In a large skillet fry the bacon. Remove cooked bacon from the pan and set aside. In the remaining bacon fat, fry the Onion until golden brown. Add the red pepper flakes to the pan, cook for a few minutes more. Add the agretti to the pan with 1/2 cup water. Stir, then cover the pan to steam the agretti for about 5 minutes. Uncover and gently stir again until most of the liquid is evaporated. Crumble bacon on top and serve. - Kristen
Brenda's Miso Soup Idea
The agretti was good in miso soup (I used aka-miso with individual strands of agretti, nameko mushrooms, and sliced scallions.)
Joing's Agretti Salad Idea
I made an agretti salad with garlic anchovy aioli the other day and it was extremely delicious. The agretti has the most fantastic texture!
Matthew K's Agretti Spaghetti
I experimented tonight with half of my agretti and it came out really well. I modified this recipe from an Italian website that I found and I am happy.
[for two people]
1/2 pound spaghetti
handful of agretti
1 link Italian Sausage (I like the sausage I get from Trader Joe's)
2 green garlics, minced
1 Cup ricotta cheese
-Clean the agretti and remove the "bulbs"
-Boil agretti with spaghetti in salted water according to the cooking time on the spaghetti box (I was taught pasta water should be as salty as the sea) I use "course salt for ice cream making" to salt my pasta water, a hefty handful into the water is usually enough
-While the pasta is cooking, brown Italian Sausage in a pan with green garlic with a bit of olive oil
-drain the pasta and return to cooking pot, mix all ingredients together and add pepper to taste (I added a spoonful of my hot pepper infused oil to add a kick).
from Annaleah G:
I found the Agretti went really well with goat cheese. I chopped it up really fine and sauteed it with salt, pepper and olive oil. Then I mixed it with a little goat cheese and lemon zest and used it as a ravioli filling. The raviolis turned out great!
Asian rice stir fry with agretti and green garlic -from Anne Marie G.
Green salad using some agretti (some agretti was sauteed and later added to leftover pasta) - Lynn R
Julia’s Agretti Putanesca
Cook up some spaghetti. During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, throw in a bunch of trimmed agretti stalks. (remove the bulb ends first.) Drain the whole thing and return to pot. Mix in chopped capers, a few chopped kalamata olives, some greated parm. Cheese, chile flakes, and some lemon zest. S & P to taste, and pass lemon sections to squeeze over at the table.
from Tina L: I wanted to send another idea for agretti. I used it in the Quinoa salad recipe below from cooking light, substituting it for the peas and cucumbers. It turned out really well.
Toasted Quinoa, Snow Peas, Tomatoes, and Mozzarella Salad
Quinoa grains are covered with a naturally occurring bitter substance called saponin. Although processors remove most of this soapy substance by either washing or polishing the grain, it is important that quinoa be thoroughly rinsed in several changes of clean water before it is cooked. For added flavor, toast it before cooking.
1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
3 cups water
1 cup diagonally cut snow peas
3/4 cup (3 ounces) diced fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped seedless cucumber
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco )
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add quinoa to pan; cook 5 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently. Add 3 cups water to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 15 minutes or until tender. Fluff with a fork; cool. Place quinoa in a large bowl. Add peas and next 6 ingredients (through tomatoes). Combine rind and remaining ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add juice mixture to quinoa mixture; toss gently to coat.
Yield 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)
Nutritional Information: CALORIES 265(29% from fat); FAT 8.6g (sat 2.5g,mono 3.5g,poly 1.5g); PROTEIN 9.1g; CHOLESTEROL 11mg; CALCIUM 138mg; SODIUM 368mg; FIBER 4.8g; IRON 3.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 35.1g
Cooking Light, JUNE 2007
Adapted from The Independent Makes 1 jar
2 bunches of agretti
Three-quarter bottle of good-quality white wine vinegar
1 medium sized jar (sterilised)
Pick over the agretti, discarding any woody stems and less-than-perfect sprigs. Rinse well under cold running water, pat dry, then pack into the jar. Add enough good-quality vinegar - we use Volpaia - to cover (ensuring the agretti is completely submerged), seal and place in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks. Then refrigerate for long-term storage.
from Heidi S:
This is how I cooked the Agretti, and my 6 year old daughter really liked it:
Agretti sautéed with Lemon Juice, White Wine and Garlic
1 lb. Agretti, root ends removed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large or 2 small shallots, sliced thin
1-2 Tbsp. garlic
Dash red pepper flakes
grated lemon peel from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon
½ cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
optional: finely grated hard cheese, e.g. parmesan
Heat the olive oil over medium low heat, add shallots and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 min. Add garlic, lemon peel and red pepper flakes, cook and stir a few minutes more. Add white wine and stir a minute, add agretti, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until agretti is tender – about 8-10 minutes. Serve warm, with grated cheese on top if desired. (I used a smoked parmesan cheese from the Creekside Smokehouse in Half Moon Bay and it was really tasty!)
I just wanted to let you know how much I have loved and am still loving the Agretti! I have to admit I am eating it raw in salad, in a veggie sandwich, and out of hand as a crunchy snack! I am a pretty sophisticated food person, read about food extensively, and have never been up close and personal to such an interesting, crunchy, refreshing and tasty veggie! I would love to have more whenever that is possible.
IT WAS FABULOUS WITH THE AGRETTI substituted for the cabbage! Our kids changed the name that night to Tumbleweed Soup. :-) submitted by Letitia R.
Adapted from 365: No Repeats by Rachel Ray
2 T. olive oil
1 pkg. Turkey Kielbasa, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2-3 celery stalks, sliced
1-2 leeks, sliced in half moons
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, finely chopped
radishes, beets, fennel, or anything else you have, sliced
1 sm. head cabbage, sliced thin
1 bag Agretti, chopped
any green of choice
1 tsp. sugar
4 c. chicken stock
1 can white beans
1) Add ingredients in order as you chop them to heated oil in a large pot.
2) Sprinkle cabbage or other greens on top with salt, sugar and 2 cups water.
3) Steam covered 5-15 minutes until softened.
4) Uncover. Add stock and beans. Bring to a boil. S & P to taste.
5) Serve with whole grain crusty bread.
**Add, subtract and substitute at will!
From Jean L: Last week not knowing what to do with the "sea weed or pine needles," I looked up a recipe for agretti on the net. See below for this green mixed with pasta.
Pasta with Agretti
Cut away the agretti roots and clean them thoroughly. Bring water to a boil for pasta. Meanwhile, saute the agretti in olive oil with some sliced garlic cloves and a little salt. When bright green, I added about 1 Tb. of water and let them steam until almost tender. When done, drain, and set aside with the lid off. The first choice for a pasta would be a homemade egg pasta (hah!), but any store bought fresh pasta like fettuccine or even dried fettuccine or pappardelle will do.
In a bowl combine some cream cheese (maybe 3-4 Tbs.), a little cream, 3-4 Tbs. of grated Romano cheese, and mix. Grate or shred 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella or even jack cheese. Drain the pasta, combine with the agretti, add the creamed mixture and the shredded cheese and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately as a side or main dish. Please note that this recipe was adapted.. This one suggested making the fresh pasta and cooking it with the agretti. It also called for robiola, a fresh Italian cheese with a tangy aftertaste. This I tried to duplicate with the Romano, cream cheese, and jack.
Andy's article about AGRETTI:
Sons of the Pioneers
I'm a roaming cowboy riding all day long,
Tumbleweeds around me sing their lonely song.
Nights underneath the prairie moon,
I ride along and sing this tune.
See them tumbling down,
Pledging their love to the ground,
Lonely but free I'll be found
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.
-Tumbling Tumbleweeds, by the Sons of the Pioneers.
What if “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” went from being a classic cowboy song to a sauté dish? It's not as farfetched as it sounds.
Tumbleweed, or Salsola tragus is an introduced species that first popped us in the U.S. in South Dakota in 1877. Since tumbleweeds are widely distributed over the steppes of Russia , it's thought that Ukrainian immigrant pioneers on the Great Plains were the most likely vector. Once rooted in the new world, the exotic tumbleweeds took care of spreading themselves. The plant is now classed as a noxious weed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The tumbleweed plant is a tender herb when young, and grows into a stiff round ball of stems that breaks loose from the soil when the autumn winds blow, so that the plant can roll across the landscape, spreading seeds. The following spring the old severed roots sprout new growth, and the tumbleweed's dispersed seeds sprout in new locations. Tumbleweeds “pledged their love” so successfully to a virgin continent that they soon made their way over the Colorado Rockies, all the way to Death Valley , and even into the musical top 40. Maybe the food network comes next.
In this week's harvest box I've included an heirloom Italian green called agretti , or Salsola soda , which is a close cousin to the tumbleweed. Agretti is a tender, succulent herb when harvested young, with a pleasing, sour taste. In Italy agretti is used chopped and tossed in salads or sautéed with onions to slip into pasta dishes, but it makes a good stir-fry green.. The name Salsola comes from the Latin salsus , meaning salt, because the various Salsola family members tolerate very salty soil. The tumbleweed's appreciation for tough conditions helped the plant spread aggressively across the American West.
Italian Salsola soda grows with the vigor of a weed, just like the Russian Salsola tragus . Agretti seeds are hard to find in the States, and costly to import now that the dollar has fallen to historic lows against the Euro. Young tumbleweeds have a similar texture and flavor to agretti , and are used as a vegetable on the steppes, cooked like spinach, but I don't have time to forage across the countryside for wild greens for your harvest boxes. So last year I grew out some agretti to maturity and harvested a seed crop. This summer I'm also going to drive out to the Panoche Valley , east of Hollister, and gather the seeds of some local tumbleweeds as they go tumbling past. The Panoche Valley is a quiet spot, a desert, hidden in the hills between Hollister and the San Joaquin Valley . I like it there. It'll be a fun experiment to grow out a small crop of tender, young tumbleweeds to eat.
When movie directors want to suggest empty space and alienation, one device they occasionally resort to is to show a tumbleweed rolling across the screen, just as the Country and Western musical group, The Sons Of The Pioneers, used the tumbleweed to suggest a relationship between loneliness, rootlessness and freedom. That's fine for film and music, but the culinary arts ought to be about fulfillment. Food is more than fuel for a restless body. Our daily meals can reaffirm and strengthen our ties to tradition, to family, to seasons and to places. We're all sons and daughters of the pioneers here in America , and we've changed our landscape dramatically, often for the worse. Someday we'll understand our freedom as the opportunity we've been given to take root and to take responsibility for our behavior in this community of plants and animals that sustains us.
When that day comes, weeds will simply be plants out of place, instead of plants we don't understand. It's an ideal world I'm talking about, I know, but, with agretti , the Italians learned to cook an alkali-tolerant weed and transform it into a treat, so maybe we can learn to savor our own landscape too. This week, I'm sending you a portion of Salsola soda to cook at home, but you'll know we've learning as a nation how to “pledge our love to the ground” when a traveler can pull off of I-5 at dawn and buy a tasty, fresh, local, braised tumbleweed taco for breakfast.
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