One of my favorite recipes, when spring arrives, is spaghetti with agretti and cherry tomatoes. The water-rich and slightly sour agretti are a perfect ingredient to welcome spring time and leave the cold winter days behind.
Whether it’s windy or suddenly warm, keeping hydrating and eating mineral-rich foods is what you need. Our agretti pasta is a perfect combination of warm and fresh, light yet creamy and nourishing. Plus, it’s super easy to make and really requires only a few ingredients.
Check out our spaghetti with agretti and cherry tomatoes recipe and surprise your family with an unusual pasta dish!
What is Agretti?
Agretti are known under different names, such as Salsola Soda or, like we call them in Italy, “barba di frate” (monk’s beard) or mustard of the monks (“senape dei monaci”). A spring veggie that presents itself with long, thin leaves, a little like chives but with a completely different taste.
What does agretti taste like?
Once cooked, agretti tastes delicate but strong at the same time. It slightly reminds me of spinach but agretti has its distinct flavor of mineral salts, fresh greens and springtime. Its flavor is gently bitter/sour but not unpleasant at all. On the contrary, it can get addictive, but this is probably what gave it its name since in Italian “agretti” means a little sour.
How do you eat agretti?
Some suggest you can eat agretti raw when they are very young and tender and while I don’t see why not, I’ve never tried. Usually, I briefly boil agretti in salty water and then proceed with water recipe I’m doing. The boiling time depends precisely on how I’m using them afterward so it can be between 3 and 5 minutes but not longer otherwise they would be too soft and melt, ruining your recipe or salad.
Where can I buy agretti?
When in season, in Italy I find it in every supermarket and food store, but usually, I buy it from the producer or a fresh veggie market. I guess a veggie producer is your best bet, but if you can’t find it where you live, this is definitely something to buy if you travel to Italy in spring or if you visit a food market in Rome.
How do you store agretti?
Just like their flavor, also their nature is very delicate, so you should store agretti in the fridge for no more than a few days. The longest I stored raw agretti in the fridge was three days, four if they were very fresh. Once cooked, however, I consume it straight away or the day after at the latest, also keeping them in the fridge overnight.
How to Make Spaghetti with Agretti and Tomatoes Ingredients – Tips
- Agretti. My suggestion is to use it fresh like most veggies. Agretti, however, doesn’t have a long fridge life, so if it’s not fresh, the tips will start turning black and you risk having to waste much of it.
- Tomatoes. For this recipe, I used cherry tomatoes because this is what I had at home, but if we are more into spring and tomatoes are more in season, for my spaghetti with agretti I usually opt for “datterini”, small plum tomatoes or date tomatoes.
- Garlic. If you are a garlicky person, you can crush the garlic with a garlic press. I love garlic, but in this spaghetti with agretti recipe I used it whole or just cut in half and then removed it, just to give a more gentle flavor.
In this recipe, all steps are quick, so I suggest having all the ingredients ready before you turn on the fire and start cooking, especially the agretti clean and ready and the tomatoes cut.
Spaghetti with Agretti – Directions Tips
How do you clean agretti?
Cleaning agretti is the most time-consuming step of this recipe. Or any recipe that includes this delicious ingredient. Sometimes, you might find it already clean, but this is mainly the case if you buy it at a store or supermarket. If you buy your agretti from a farm or local producer or market, it will like come with roots and some dirt attached.
The best way to clean agretti is to remove all the non-green parts first, such as the white-pinkish roots as well as the eventual black tips if they are not super fresh anymore. Once this is done, you need to wash it. Depending on the level of dirt, I suggest soaking and rinsing it up to two or three times until you are sure it’s clean.
My vegetables are usually organic, so I barely use baking soda to wash them, but when my agretti has too much dirt, I add a spoon of baking soda in the first water. Then I rinse it and soak it again twice. After the last soaking time, I wash it carefully in small chunks and leave it to drain in a strainer.
Nutritional Properties and Benefits
- Agretti. Being water its main component (some 90%), agretti is a very light and low-calorie vegetable. Its high fiber content makes it a good friend of your intestine. On top of this, agretti is rich in minerals and vitamins such as vitamin C, A and of the B group.
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants and important nutritient such as the beta-carotene “lycopene” some research link to a cancer prevention role. This has been especially confirmed if cooked and consumed with a bit of oil, so this spaghetti with agretti recipe is perfect.
- Pasta. This is the carbs part and unless you have digestion or intestine issues, it’s usually better to consume them whole-grain.
- Proteins. This spaghetti with agretti and cherry tomatoes recipe is not rich in protein like our one-pot cannellini bean pasta was. So, if you want to add this macronutrient to your meal, you can add a second course with meat or a side dish that includes cheese, beans, tempeh, or tofu, the latest being two fermented and unfermented soy products. If you eat whole-grain spaghetti, this will make you better absorb the protein from a plant-based source.
Spaghetti with Agretti and Cherry Tomatoes Recipe Directions
- 1 pot
- 1 Skillet
- 200 gr agretti 7 oz
- 15 cherry tomatoes
- 180 gr spaghetti 6 to 6.5 oz
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- salt to taste
- Clean the agretti and cut the tomatoes in half.
- Heat up the oil in a pan and add the garlic to toast for a few minutes being careful that it doesn't burn.
- When the garlic starts releasing its scent, add the cherry tomatoes cut in half or in four parts if too big. Add a pinch of salt to the tomatoes so that they release their juice quicker. Cook for about ten minutes or until soft over medium heat stirring often to avoid it sticking. If you feel they are too dry, add a splash of water from time to time to keep it moist and creamy but not too much otherwise they will taste as if boiled. When they are soft, you can keep gently cooking on slow heat.
- Meanwhile, put a pot full of water to boil and add a pinch of salt. When the water boils, put the agretti and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
- When the time is up, transfer the agretti to the skillet with the tomatoes using a tong and remove the garlic.
- Add the spaghetti in the same pot and water where you cooked the agretti. Cook the pasta following the package instruction and try it before draining it.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain it and transfer it to the skillet together with the tomatoes and the agretti. Stir for a few minutes so that all the flavors and ingredients and perfectly mixed and blending together.
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