prosciutto, red greens; spring garlic and agretti spaghetti

Making do.

I mean that I had a choice of pasta, and more than one interesting ingredient to make it shine, and I decided the day before not to look further. When I found that even with the special element I had picked it would not really be much food, and realizing that we would have the time to enjoy two courses, I turned to a package of a salumi we had also been living with for a while.

The interesting ingredient I chose was agretti, because it was there, and because I imagined it would be very interesting, even unadorned, mated with a very good pasta.

Looking on line, I came across a discussion of the plant, one which also included a very simple recipe, ‘Spaghetti with monk’s beard’. I added some toasted breadcrumbs at the end, partly because I didn’t have near as much agretti as the recipe specified. It was delicious, and I don’t think we missed the agretti that wasn’t there. Still, it should be even  more interesting the next time, when I hope to have more ‘monk’s beard’ to toss with the pasta.

It was because the dish would be a pretty slight meal by itself in any event that I added an antipasto.

  • two ounces of La Quercia’s Ridgetop Piccante Prosciutto (rubbed with fennel seed and red chili) from pastured pigs in the Missouri Ozarks
  • the last of the small head of variegata radicchio di lusia from Eckerton Hill Farm that we now had enjoyed across 4 meals, and the leaves of a small head of lettuce from Campo Rosso Farm, which very much resembled the chicory, both ‘greens’ dressed with olive oil, local sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cut spruce tips from Violet Hill Farm
  • slices of Pain D’Avignon ‘seven grains bread’ from Foragers Market

The spaghetti could hardly have been easier, or more fun, to assemble.

  • about 2, maybe 3 ounces of agretti from Campo Rosso Farm, cleaned by “..pulling off any tired looking strands and chopping off the pink roots.”, as the recipe advises, washed a couple times in a large bowl of water and drained, tossed, along with some crushed dried Calabresi peperoncino secchia from Buon Italia, into an antique high-sided copper pot, over low-medium heat, in which 2 fresh garlic cloves from Michisk’s Farm in Flemington, N.J. had been gently cooking in 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil until they had softened and become fragrant, a pinch of salt added along with half a cup or so of water, the mix stirred for about 5 minutes or until the thickest part of the agretti stems had been cooked through, then half a pound of Setaro spaghetti from Buon Italia, cooked al dente, was added to the pot, with at least half of a cup of pasta cooking water, and everything stirred over high flame until the liquid had emulsified, when it was served in shallow bowls, a squeeze of juice from a Chelsea Whole Foods Market organic lemon added, olive oil drizzled around the edges, and toasted homemade breadcrumbs sprinkled on top