This strange looking vegetable has been in the market for the past few weeks and I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything like it. Long green, almost chive-like leaves growing off a central stem, sold with the roots attached. I asked our Umbertide fruttovendolo (I just love saying that word, its so much more evocative than vegetable guy) how to cook it and he suggested boiling the stuff and then dressing it with a lemon, anchovy, caper sauce.
Around here its called riscoli, but after checking in my cookbooks, I see that it is more commonly called ‘barba di frate’ or monk’s beard, although I also found a reference for it as ‘dog’s tooth’. One British recipe site suggested that it might be difficult to find monk’s beard so look for the more common sapphire cloud. Huh? Sapphire cloud??
Regardless, the first time we tried it as suggested with a nice lemony dressing and we discovered that a bit of chopped tomato helped brighten up the flavors. Well, whatever you call it, it tastes great. Sort of crunchy, a little bit fibrous but it has a flavor all of its own.