Minutina, Erba Stella, or Bucks Horn

“Minutina”, or “Erba Stella”, or “Bucks Horn”, take your pick.

I snapped this picture with my phone at the Bodhitree Farm stall at the Greenmarket last week, to remind myself to learn more about this very beautiful “herb”, and how it might best be used.  While I bought some equally gorgeous tatsoi that day, which I served as a side dish for Wienerschnitzel, I’m now anxious to snap up a bunch of Minutia, or Erba Stella, the very next chance I get.  Looking at this picture I totally understand the star reference in one of its names.  Oh, it’s also called “Bucks Horn”, the name by which it was known here in the colonial period, for the slightly ragged or pointed edges of its leaves.

I was delighted to learn that it’s also very much an Italian thing, a cold weather salad green (and in fact a succulent) with a mild nutty flavour and slightly crunchy texture.   Best when it’s young, it can be used in salads, where it contributes its own virtues in a crowd (not least its leaf shape and texture).  I’m actually likely to use it more often wilted with a bit of olive oil (with or without garlic) as a side or garnish for a meat or fish entrée, or as a bed for fish, meat, cooked vegetables, or – perhaps an inspiration here – eggs.

For the gardeners out there, it seems it’s incredibly easy to grow, that new growth follows after harvesting, and that it’s pretty hardy to boot.