Apparently it’s an Italian spring green (which, when put that way, sounds like a paint color, doesn’t it?) that germinates in the cold and then grows during the spring rains. Everything I read about it made me suspicious of the flavor. Would I even like it? I read that it’s sour, marine-tasting, and slightly crisp, even after it’s been cooked. I imagined crunchy sour seaweed.
I mustered all my courage and set out researching recipes, which included using a lot of Google translator. I advise everyone to do the same, since you read recipe instructions that include, “then you must delete it,” and “for my lustful,” and “where after taking her to bake.” Which naturally led my mind down a non-agretti road. Laughing, I opened the refrigerator, threw together the odds and ends I found there, and we were lustful for our agretti dinner and deleted it promptly. Because, thankfully, agretti tasted nothing like sour seaweed.
Lemon Fettuccine with Agretti, Bacon, and Roasted Garlic
inspired by Julia’s recipe (Mariquita Farm CSA) serves 3 or 4
4 strips of bacon (I used turkey bacon, because that’s what I had)
2 cloves of roasted garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil (I used roasted garlic infused oil)
½ pound of agretti, cleaned thoroughly and dried, root ends discarded
½ pound of lemon fettuccine
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes (low-fat works fine)
¾ cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 ounces grated Romano cheese, plus a little extra for garnish
1 tablespoon of grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
reserved pasta water
salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil*. Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta according to package directions**. When the pasta is done, reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking water, and drain the rest.
*As the pasta water is coming to a boil, cook bacon over medium heat in a large skillet, until crispy brown, but not charred. Remove bacon from pan and place on paper towels. Crumble when cool and set aside.
**While the pasta is cooking, remove all but 1 tablespoon bacon grease from skillet. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and the roasted garlic (skillet should still be over medium heat) and stir for two minutes. Carefully add the agretti to the hot oil. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover the pan, and let the agretti cook for 5 more minutes. Remove the lid from the pan, add the cream cheese, and stir.
As soon as the pasta is cooked and drained, add the hot fettuccine to the skillet. Add the mozzarella cheese and the Romano cheese. Stir well to distribute the cheese. Add the lemon juice, and then the reserved pasta water, as necessary, to make a creamy sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish with crumbled bacon bits, grated lemon peel, and grated Romano cheese.