Monday, April 02, 2007

Barba di Frate (Monk's beard)

Here you have the "contorno" (side dish) from last night's dinner, some boiled potatoes and this delicious vegetable, barba di frate, a.k.a barba dei frati, agretti or monk's beard. It's a dense, heavy vegetable as muddy as spinach, so clean it well, and it's a bit of a pain to separate the edible green "leaves" from the hard, pink stem and root, but it needs only about 3-5 minutes in boiling water to turn out tasty and fresh. The "leaves" are naturally a bit salty in the way swiss chard is. Dressed simply with some lemon and a bit of the best olive oil you can buy, they're one of the most delicious springtime vegetable experiences. They're an excellent compliment to the trout "al cartoccio" (baked in parchment paper) that we had for dinner last night.

Barba di Frate was an Italian culinary revelation for me as I'd never seen it in the States but it seems that if you are willing to grow it, you can get the seeds here. To be honest, if I couldn't get this veg at the market, it would be one of those I'd take the time and effort to grow. It's really that good!


Blogger ML said...

Wow, I've never heard of this, but it looks and sounds really good!

8:53 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I'm so excited about this vegetable! My friends offered me a plot in their backyard, so now I DO have a vegetable patch. This may be something I have to try out. Thank you for sharing something new with us non-Italian-residents.

10:13 PM  
Blogger chemcookit said...

This is really sad - I lived in Italy most of my life and never knew about the existence of this vegetable!!!! I wonder if it's something typical from Milan? Anyway, this is going to be a must-try next time I visit, thanks for letting us know :)

10:16 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hey ML, If you ever get the chance to try it, do!

Christina, Hey, if you do grow this veg, let me know! I'd love to know what conditions it requires. All I know is that the dirt clinging to it is muddy, as if it grew in a marsh or something. Can't be sure though.

Hi Chem, It really seems there are a lot of regional vegetables in Italy, don't you think? You probably know a lot of food that I don't here in Milan.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Beenzzz said...

I haven't heard of this either, but I bet it would make a wonderful accompaniment to fish!

5:06 AM  
Blogger chemcookit said...

So, I was actually curious and went and looked online about the origin of this vegetable. Apparently it's grown throughout all Italy - so, just my ignorance..
If you want to practice your italian, check out this recipe, it seems yummy: pasta with a sauce made with milk, barba di frate and ricotta!!

5:42 AM  
Blogger Lea said...

Sweet! A new veg!! WOOHOO! It looks so unusual in a fantastic kind of way.. I am totally buying some seeds! :)

2:12 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Beenzzz, Actually it's perfect for fish.

Hi Chem, Thanks! I'll try the recipe soon.

Hi Lea, If you grow this, let me know how it turnd out.

2:39 PM  
Blogger hellomelissa said...

ha! i'm still struggling to grow successful tomatoes from seeds!

these greens remind me of the turnip greens that are so popular down here.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Pearl said...

Intriguing sounding food.

I answered your hollandaise question over there.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Tracie B. said...

i can't wait to try and find that!

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Paz said...

I don't think I could just pick 7 songs alone. ;-) Haven't heard any of the songs you've listed. I'm going to have to check them out. ;-)))


3:32 PM  
Anonymous Andreas said...

If you like to grow it - I have seeds of Barba Di Frate :-) Greetings from Germany, Andreas

9:17 PM  

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