Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Spaghetti with Monk’s Beard (Agretti), Garlic, Anchovy and Chilli Pepper

Agretti or Monk’s Beard is a vegetable widely used in Italy during Springtime especially in central and southern areas. We have dressed them in the southern way as they are often prepared, that is with garlic, anchovies and chilli pepper. Monk’s Beard taste is alike spinach.

This seasoning is also used for the classic Apulian Orecchiette Pasta with Broccoli Rabe (Cime di Rapa).

Serve 4, Preparation 20 mins, Cooking 20-25 mins

  • 350 g Spaghetti (we used wholemeal ones)
  • 2 bunches of Agretti/Monk’s Beard
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 chilli pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 fillets of anchovies
  • EVOO, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 tablespoons


Cut off the root part of the agretti, then soak them in cold water and rinse them until the water is clear. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. As soon as it boils, put in the agretti and blanch them for 3 to 4 minutes.

Drain them without throwing away the cooking water in which the spaghetti will be cooked, put them under cold running water so that they will stop cooking and keep their colour.
Place the pot with the water to boil for cooking spaghetti.

In a non-stick pan, fry 2 tablespoons of evo oil with the garlic cloves, anchovies and chilli pepper. Fry the garlic and the chilli well, let the anchovies melt, add the monk’s beard/agretti, a pinch of salt and allow them to flavour. Boil spaghetti, save some of the cooking water, drain them al dente, add to the agretti with a bit of the cooking water, mix and serve.
You can also add toasted breadcrumbs on top.

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