More than a garlic
More precisely "aglione of Valdichiana", because here it was born, and it is still cultivated using traditional techniques that have been handed down since the time of the Etruscans, the ancient inhabitants of Tuscany. And to think that this specialty was close to extinction, and only in recent years the production has been resumed by some small producers of Valdichiana, being inscribed in the list of PAT (Prodotti Agroalimentari Tradizionali – Traditional Food Products), i.e. a regional and national list of traditional agricultural products. Such name says a lot about this special variety of giant garlic, whose bulbs can weigh up to 800g, against the 150g. of a common garlic. But, in addition to the dimensions, which are the characteristics that differentiate aglione by his “cousin” aglio?
- Its scent, spicy and delicate at the same time; this because aglione is free of alliin, a substance that is a natural constituent of fresh garlic, which gives the garlic a strong and pungent smell that so easily remains on the hands.
- Its sweet taste, which makes it a perfect substitute for classic garlic in each recipe, ranging from sauces for pasta, up to meat or fish.
- Its digestibility, another property to be reckoned with, if you suffer from heartburn; after a meal, it will be hard to continue to smell its aroma.
In the kitchen of Valdichiana, the most common use of aglione is in the preparation of the eponymous sauce made of tomato, with whom you can combine pici, the famous fresh pasta dish of Valdichiana. The recipe? Nothing could be easier: after heating in a pan some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a clove of Valdichiana aglione, add fresh tomato sauce, and salt and pepper as required. Just one ingredient is away, the hidden one: a bay leaf broken, to be added to the tomato sauce just before mixing it with pasta. And here's the real aglione sauce.