Also known as the friar's beard, they stimulate diuresis and are also ideal during a slimming diet.
Present in the period between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, the agretti – also called "friar's beard" – before the advent of industrial soda, were burned by Murano glassmakers to obtain sodium and potassium carbonate, useful even to soap makers. Today they are among the most popular vegetables of the moment for their health properties.
- What they contain
- Properties for health
- How they prepare
- Uses in cooking and recipes
What they contain
They have good doses of citrates, sodium carbonate and chlorophyll, a substance that has a fundamental role in regenerating the body: it increases blood oxygen and the amount of antioxidant agents. But above all the mineral salts are the great protagonists of this plant. Among these, magnesium stands out in particular, important for the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins, in the regulation of blood pressure and in the transmission of nerve impulses.
They also contain vitamin A and vitamin C, which work as excellent antioxidants, vitamin B3 and above all calcium. Furthermore, the folates present in the “friar's beard” are of vital importance for pregnant women, since their intake, especially in the first trimester of gestation, prevents spina bifida.
Properties for health
Despite the mineral and electrolyte content (which makes them an ideal food as a cardiotonic), they perform a diuretic action and, if sautéed in a pan with a drizzle of oil, also stimulate intestinal transit thanks to the presence of fibers. These characteristics, combined with the large presence of water and a very low energy content (calories), makes the agretti of foods particularly suitable for spring slimming diets, also because they increase the feeling of satiety without weighing it down.
Their magnesium and potassium help menstruating women against dysmenorrhea, while iron replenishes menstrual losses. Substances that are also very useful for those who are tired, for sportsmen and for those suffering from cramps and muscle contractures.
How they prepare
Since they tend to deteriorate in a short time, immediately after purchase they should be placed in the refrigerator, preferably wrapped in paper, and eaten fresh. Eating them as soon as possible after the harvest allows above all to take on all the properties contained in this precious plant. And now let's see how they are prepared: cut the most leathery part near the root, remove the less intact leaves and wash them carefully under running water to remove the residues of earth, which are usually conspicuous.
Uses in cooking and recipes
Thanks to their fresh and slightly acidic flavor, they are excellent in omelettes, spaghetti with fresh tomatoes or as a side dish to accompany meat and fish. However, the best cooking method to consume them is boiling, which can significantly reduce their salt content.
After washing them, just boil them in plenty of water. Since after boiling they tend to darken a lot, it is a good idea to immerse them immediately in a tray with ice, dabbing lightly with kitchen paper. This way they will keep their bright green color and their crunchy texture. Now they are ready to be seasoned with good extra virgin olive oil, sea salt until enough and a few drops of lemon or white wine vinegar as in this recipe.