A salad that comprises several components makes a delicious meal on its own. This salad is full of interesting flavours that taste of late winter/early spring. Agretti, also know as monk's beard, is a variety of marsh grass that is succulent and gently salty. It is good warm or cold; we pickle it at this time of year and serve it alongside cured meats – you can use pickled agretti wherever capers are called for.
1 butternut squash
Salt and pepper
3 sprigs of oregano or marjoram
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of agretti (small-leafed spinach is a good alternative if you can't find it)
Small bunch of salad leaves
The juice and zest of one lemon
60ml/21/2fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
40g/11/2oz grated Parmesan
1 red chilli, seeds removed
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Slice the skin from the squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut into one-inch cubes. Place on a baking tray, season with salt and pepper, tuck the marjoram in between the pieces and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven until soft – about 40 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Boil a pot of water over a high heat. Do not salt, as the agretti already has a slightly salty taste. Pick over the agretti and remove the fronds from their stems. Once the water has boiled, plunge the agretti in and remove almost at once. Drain with a colander and set aside until cool. Wash and pat dry the salad leaves.
Put the leaves in a bowl along with the cooked squash and agretti. Squeeze over the lemon juice, season with salt, and add the zest, grated Parmesan and oil. Toss together. Divide among six plates, spoon the ricotta over the top and scatter over the chilli. Serve at once.Reuse content