As the weather begins to warm the first fruits of spring literally ‘spring’ up from the new foliage. A favourite has to be wild asparagus which grows randomly and abundant throughout Italy.
Asparagus is a member of the Lily family and is sought after for its tender, succulent, edible shoots. This plant has been cultivated for more than two thousand years in the eastern Mediterranean. Roman emperors loved it so much they kept special boats for the purpose of fetching it and named them the Asparagus fleet.
Wild asparagus shoots up between thorny blackberry plants, in cool damp gullies or secluded places where they are hidden and keep themselves tender and ripe for those who search for them every year. The spontaneous uncultivated variety has a sweeter taste than the domesticated type and is a sort after ingredient during the early days of spring.
There are two types of wild asparagus, a slim, tall, sweet variety dispersed in every area and then a short, dark, slightly spindly and bitter asparagus which grows later on in the season. The sweeter variety is the most popular while the bitter type is an acquired taste and often needs to be blanched in hot water to take away a little of the bitterness.
The asparagus hunt can be as popular as mushroom or truffle hunting in the Italian autumn months. The hunt for asparagus can turn into a war. Often it’s a race to get to the best spots first and it can be quite vicious. Like mushrooms, asparagus are a delicacy that bring out the competitive nature of people.
The asparagus hunter has an intense satisfaction and can relish the preparation of this sweet vegetable which can be cleaned and fried with olive oil to make an omelette, or wrapped in thinly sliced cheese and prosciutto cotto ham and baked in the oven.
Personally when I see a batch of freshly picked asparagus I feel like a quiche is coming on. The culinary possibilities really are endless. Dishes like these are an elixir to the wintertime, like the warmth of spring they assure me the cold is coming to an end.
Per la versione in Italiano clicca qui: Asparagi di primavera
8 thoughts on “Springtime Asparagus”
I love this piece, I could actually taste those asparagus…..egg frittata YUM!
Thanks! I’m just happy my nieces and nephews are so keen on hunting them down! They are really good for you actually, will keep you on the toilet peeing for ages!
I wish I could find some around Casa Debbio. I have seen it in the markets and I made a delicious asparagus risotto recently.
I can’t find a wild asparagus to save my life, luckily I’m surrounded by mad keen asparagus hunters who are always willing to give them to me!!
Thanks, happy you enjoyed the taste!!
This reminded me of visiting Griffith in south western NSW and collecting huge bunches of the wild asparagus that grows around the vineyards and the orange groves. Given that even the roundabouts in the town are planted with herbs (mainly basil), you can tell it has a dominant Italian culture. Another link to Sicily, perhaps.
That sounds amazing, I can’t say I’ve ever been asparagus hunting in Australia, I’d have to ask around to see where? I bet there are plenty of Sicilian gardeners around!
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