Monk’s Beard is an incredibly rare, stem-shaped sea vegetable that grows in the salt marshes along the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic coast of Portugal. In Holland we can buy this scarce delicacy only once or twice a year in a few organic shops. In Italian it is called ‘Barba di frate’, hence the Dutch name it ‘Monk’s Beard’. It is also called ‘Italian samphire’ because of its shape and salty taste, though Monk’s Beard has a much softer flavor than regular samphire. Its structure is much more rigid, and therefor it is best to cook it 5 to 8 minutes before consuming. Unlike samphire, which can be eaten raw or blanched. Both can only remain fresh for a couple of days in the fridge, so it is best to eat it immediately when you buy it: and who could resist this lovely nature’s gift of the sea?
Like samphire Monk’s Beard is an amazingly healthy green with a surprisingly nice and fresh flavor. It is a very strong antioxidant and it has a lot of chlorophyll which is a very good combination for us to detox our bodies (and minds). Like samphire it contains a lot of sodium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, manganese, iodine and copper. Though samphire has a little bit more prana, they are both very rich of nature’s Shakti energy. Monk’s Beard also has great amounts of vitamine B, C and A. It has a strong antibacterial effect and is very good for diabetes, cancer, liver disease, thyroid disorders and for strengthening the immune system.
Monk’s Beard is an appetency for creative cooks like myself: you can do anything with it and the salty sea flavor enriches every thinkable dish. For example stir fried and finished with cream and pesto for a nice pasta-dish, grilled in the oven served with steamed potatoes and butter or cooked and cooled down for a nice salad with dandelion lettuce and cherry tomatoes with cottage cheese dressing and fresh dill.
On the picture you see a modest dish which fits the Sattvic lifestyle of ‘simple, natural, green and crispy’ very well: cooked for just 5 minutes and then served with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and sweat-tasted baby avocado. Lovely with some quinoa or spaghetti served with a green salad and balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil dressing.