Like any vegetable found a few weeks out of the year, agretti (also known as monk’s beard) is a rarity. As luck would have it, they are in season when the weather is mild enough to eat outside, additional food for the soul. Agretti with their herbaceous flavor are light and easy to prepare.
For 4 people
400 grams of high-quality spaghetti (if you can find them, try Rummo or Mancini products because they stay al dente and are very tasty)
A large bunch (about 300 grams) of agretti
One clove of garlic
A large sliced spring onion
One freshly sliced chili pepperospan,
The zest of half a lemon
Montecalvi Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Start with a good cleaning of the agretti, removing the pink and red roots, and let the agretti soak in a large bowl of cold water, preferably along with half a lemon. Then rinse well under running water and check for any roots that still need to be removed or any woody leaves.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and salt generously; you will need it for both the agretti and the spaghetti.
Sauté the garlic in Montecalvi olive oil until it changes color, then remove it. Add the onion and let it wilt slowly over low heat until it becomes transparent (5-10 minutes), then add the chili pepper. If the pan starts to dry out, remove it from the heat and add a tiny bit of pasta water.
Timing is crucial at this point: check the recommended cooking time and shorten it by 30 seconds, then throw in the spaghetti.
When there are still 5 minutes of cooking time left, add the agretti and cook together, then drain (setting aside ½ cup of the pasta water), and pour the agretti and pasta into the onion. Brown for 30 seconds, mix well, add olive oil and a little of the pasta water to mix well. Remove from heat, add lemon zest, taste to check for salt, and add a drizzle of olive oil before serving.
This dish is a perfect companion to Vermentino-bringing true Tuscan flavors to your table.