At Eco Park Hotel Azalea, we like to use varied raw materials and seasonal produce for a vegan cooking experience that is characterised by freshness and colour. Today we introduce you to a spring vegetable that was little known until recently, but is now becoming increasingly popular: Agretti. We also introduce you to Davide Fanton's dish using this ingredient in a spring dish!
Agretti, barbe di frate, lischeri, roscano, monk mustard: many names for a little-known but increasingly successful product.
Sometimes we forget the variety of seasonal vegetables that can be used in the kitchen. If you are looking for something new at the market, we recommend Agretti or Monk's Mustard, also known as Lischeri, Roscano or Mostarda di Frate. They are a delicious vegetable that not everyone knows about, but they are worth trying.
We used them in the first course at dinner with Davide Fanton (@chefdavidefanton) and Pravas (@casa_pravas_cucina_creativa): a small salad with lightly sautéed agretti chopped with a touch of balsamic and soy sauce, a carpaccio of strawberries au naturel, an almond cream and polenta chips.
A dish that wants to interpret spring, in its colours and in the play of contrasts between the sweetness and freshness of the strawberries, the herbaceous and earthy flavour of the agretti and the acidity of the balsamic vinegar. The almond foam provides the fat and colour contrast. The polenta chips are reminiscent of the area and add a very pleasant crunch.
Recently, agretti have become more and more popular in gastronomy. They are simple but versatile and, thanks to their slender, thread-like shape, allow experimentation in both taste and presentation.
Agretti are becoming increasingly popular. When they were first mentioned more than ten years ago, this vegetable was still relatively unknown. Today they are available in many markets and cost about 7 euros per kilo when already cured. However, it is unlikely that most people will need to buy a whole kilo.
The scientific name of the plant, Salsola soda, indicates that it used to be used for industrial purposes rather than food. Sodium carbonate, also known as soda ash, was extracted from its ashes, which was important for the production of glass and soap.
More recently, agretti has been rediscovered and valued for its nutritional properties. Besides minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium, agretti is rich in water and vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E.
The cultivation of agretti was widespread in the Venice lagoon for centuries and served to supply the local glassworks. However, due to soda production, agretti disappeared from agriculture in the 19th century.
They disappeared from agriculture in the 19th century. Nevertheless, agretti continued to be consumed in gastronomy in some places, so that in recent years they have been increasingly used in cooking again.