A Vegetable by any other name: riscoli, barba di frate, monk’s beard


Riscoli, Barba di Frate, Monk's Beard 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.

So, has anyone else seen this vegetable around and what do you call it?
Riscoli, Barba di Frate, Monk's Beard with anchovy dressing

Monk's Beard on Foodista


  1. Mosk on May 26, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Looks like it would make a nice broom.

  2. mitch on May 26, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Wow – I’ve never seen that before, Jude. What’s interesting
    is that your fruttovendolo suggested you dress it with a very similar
    dressing to that used on the most classic of Roman salads, puntarelle in salsa d’acciughe. And it sounds like this veg tastes almost similar, or has the same texture. Also, it’s strange looking!


  3. Josephinefletcher on April 26, 2011 at 11:44 am

    This is great just boiled, drained, add olive oil, salt and a little lemon… very popular here in Italy.

  4. JudithKlinger on April 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Ciao Josephine! Completely agree with you. In fact I think were
    having some for dinner tonight.
    Are you in Italy? Where?

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