Sculpit/Stridolo - the Rare Italian Herb
Sculpit or Stridolo is a fast-growing, mild-mannered herb blending the complex and delicate, yet distinctive flavors of chicory, arugula, tarragon, and other favorite greens. Often described as a lightly herby, slightly peppery flavor, it’s milder than that would suggest, with a flavor all its own. Harvest leaves continually as they will quickly re-grow, giving more.
Easy to grow, it is almost completely unknown outside of northern Italy, where it is treasured and honored with a festival every April in the little mountain town of Galeata, northeast of Florence. It is traditionally harvested in early Spring before the first blooms appear, with the leaves most famously flavoring risotto, along with pasta, soups, salads and main courses.
A fast-growing annual herb, it is traditionally found on the edge of fields, forests, and mountain pastures but is equally at home in a quiet herb garden. The leaves are long and lance-like, growing outward from a central stem ending in charismatic pink balloon-like flowers, fringed with delicate white petals. Blooming from April through October, these fantastic flower pouches drive pollinators wild and on sunny days swarms of bees dive completely inside the flower, emerging entirely covered in pollen. We have noticed several species of hummingbirds and butterflies crowding around the blossoms.
In Galeata, a village in the Emilia-Romagna region, a festival at the end of April each year celebrates the sculpit. The town's streets come alive with stalls, while in Piazza Gramsci local chefs demonstrate dishes using sculpit, especially pasta and ravioli.
The sprigs and leaves are harvested before blooming and used in cooking, mainly for pasta, meat, vegetables, salads, omelets and risottos in Italy where this scarce gourmet green is found.
Like most herbs, sculpit is easy growing, doing best in full sun and actually prefers poor soil. Rich garden soil produces lots of green growth but little to no flowers, good for culinary production but not for pollinators.
Plant sculpit seeds directly into the soil after all danger of frost has passed - no more than ¼” deep and 4” apart.
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Love this thing
Grew this basically just to see what is tasted like and it has quickly become my favorite garden green. A perennial in my zone, 8a, as long as you trim it from time to time, it constantly produces gorgeous green leaves that go great in nearly every dish. It survives horrible heat, drought, four months of being ignored, only to explode into activity the minute I poked it with scissors.