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Focus On… Italian Monks Beard

Italian Monks Beard

Monk’s beard, a seasonal favourite with chefs. This grass-like green vegetable originated from Tuscany. It is similar to samphire in appearance and taste but without the overwhelming saltiness that makes samphire such an acquired taste. Monk’s beard gets its name from the Cappuccino monks who were well known for growing the vegetable.
Monk’s beard has a very short season of approximately five weeks in the spring and while it is predominately grown in Tuscany it is also increasingly being grown in other parts of Italy and by specialist salad and vegetable growers in the United Kingdom and United States.
Monk’s beard is known as Barbe dei Frati in Italy and is also called goat’s beard in the United Kingdom.
When it is very young it is suitable to use in salads but it is perhaps best when lightly steamed and dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and freshly ground black pepper (and sea salt to taste) to produce a delicate side platter.