Wild Things Round Up - Asparagus



Last week, I had the great pleasure of spending a full day foraging with my friend Wild Food Girl.  She lives at 11,000' in the mountains, where the plants are only just starting to grow.  So she was delighted to come to my elevation to take advantage of the most abundant time of the growing season.  We harvested more foods than I can remember - wild allium, nettles, elderflower, yucca flowers, cattail flowers, milkweed buds, lambs quarter, and orache.  We were also lucky to pick a good bit of late-season asparagus.

We cooked our first day's asparagus into a delicious asparagus and porcini risotto.  The next morning, before it was time for Wild Food Girl to leave for home, we made one last foraging run.  Upon entering the green space, she turns to me and offers, "Today, why don't you keep any asparagus that we find."  My mind paused.  Wild Food Girl is one of my favorite foraging buddies, and I usually take great pleasure in sending her home with as much food as possible.  But this seemed to me one of those occasions, like where we are taught to simply take in a compliment with gratitude, where I should accept her generous offer.  I said, OK.

Little did either of us know that we'd harvest asparagus from 30+ spots that day, one of which was the size of a twin bed.  We christened the area Asparagus Eden/Eatin' after coming away with a bag of tasty asparagus. 

The lesson here - don't give away your wild asparagus before it has been collected!!  True to her words, Wild Food Girl let me go home with the entire bounty of asparagus.

Hopefully you will be lucky enough to find your own Asparagus Eden/Eatin'.  If you do, you might want to use one of these recipes from the Wild Things Round Up to cook up your wild treasure.

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Wild Food Girl collected her first wild asparagus this year, though she's been dreaming about it for a while.  I think you'll enjoy reading her entry about it, Asparagus Legend Made Real.  This post also contains her recipe for Sweet Soy-Glazed Asparagus.


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I had the pleasure of teaching a foraging class at my friend Kayann Short's place, Stonebridge Farm (proudly celebrating their 21st year of CSA!!!), back in April.  Even then, the farm was lush with early season growth, and we found many more wild edible plants than I had anticipated when we planned the class back in January.  We even found a few clusters of asparagus.  Kayann has shared on her blog one of her favorite ways of enjoying wild asparagus, on Wild Asparagus and Cilantro Pesto Pizza.  This post also contain recipe ideas for asparagus and walnut pasta and asparagus quiche.


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I've gotta tell you that it has been a real pleasure having a hometown foraging buddy, someone to go out with on a regular basis.  For me, that person is Lacy at Laughing Lemon Pie.  She loves good food, and learning how to feed her family the best on a budget.  After foraging wild asparagus this year, she made this heavenly Spaghetti Carbonara with Wild Asparagus.  I'm guessing the asparagus lends a nice balance to the rich pasta sauce.


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Maury Grimm of M's Jardin, Red Willow Gardens, La Jara, CO (Wild crafted and organic herbs and foraged foods) has shared three of her favorite wild asparagus recipes.

Fall Spring Soup
What to do in Spring when all the Asparagus start arriving, and the larder is still full of dried mushrooms and other of Autumn’s harvest? A cream of wild mushroom and asparagus soup is what I experimented with. Using a combination on Oyster, Boletus or Slippery Jacks as the foundation for the stock, there is no need for a meat-based broth.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped Lovage (Levisticum spp) leaf. If using dried leaves, reduce by ¼ cup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups chopped Asparagus stalks, with tips removed
A combination of wild mushrooms to equal about 16 oz:
Dried oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) ,  Boletus edulis or Slippery Jack (Suillus brevipes). The more of the Boletes or Spippery Jacks used, the ‘meatier’ the broth.  2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 cups water
1/3 cup brandy
2 cups Asparagus tips (from stalks above)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, Lovage, Asparagus stalks and cayenne and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Add water, bring to a boil, Remove from heat and puree. Return to stove and add the mushrooms, thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring. Add the brandy, bring to a boil and cook about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
Add the cream and asparagus tips, return to heat, stirring so as not to boil. Remove from the heat and adjust seasoning, to taste.


East or West Popped Asparagus 

Simple, and you can either go East or West.

2 Tbsp Peanut oil
1 fistful (bunch) cleaned and dried Asparagus spears, cut into 2” pieces
Salt, pepper to taste

Heat oil in a fry pan until smoking, put Asparagus in and shake pan to prevent sticking until hot and tender.
To go West, serve with a drizzle of melted butter. To go East, add a drizzle of Sesame oil, a sprinkling of Sesame seeds and Tamari to taste. 



Fresh and Wild Asparagus Fritatta

Ingredients
6 eggs, beaten
1-ounce goat cheese (or feta or freshly grated parmesan)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup chopped asparagus
Asparagus stalks, trimmed (about 6, 4-6” long)
1 tablespoon chopped wild carrot, lovage or parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped wild onions or chives
Olive oil
Preheat oven to broil.

In medium size bowl blend together eggs, pepper, and salt. Heat a 12-inch cast iron or other oven safe pan over medium high heat. Add butter to pan and melt. Add asparagus to pan and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour egg mixture into pan and stir with rubber spatula. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the egg mixture has set on the bottom and begins to set up on top. Sprinkle with parsley and chopped wild onions.
Crumble the cheese onto the top of the egg mixture and arrange the asparagus spears on top. I like to make a pretty ‘fan’. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil

Place pan into oven and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned and fluffy. Remove from pan and cut into 6 servings. Serve immediately.
You can substitute lambs quarters or zucchini, also. To make this heartier, brown some thinly sliced good potatoes (Yukon golds or reds) in the bottom of the pan before adding asparagus and eggs.
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Did you know that wild asparagus is delicious raw?  I always eat the first 10 spears I collect each year raw, and out in the field, it's nearly impossible to resist snacking.  My Shaved Wild Asparagus Salad is light and flavorful addition to any menu.
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 I've heard that some people really enjoy batter fried asparagus.  Riffing on that idea, I made a crispy toasty side dish Sesame-Crusted Asparagus Spears.

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I'd like to send out a big hug of gratitude to everyone who participated in the Wild Things Round Up this month.   See you all next month, when we will be cooking up more inspiration with wild edible plants.


I'm sharing this post with Real Food Wednesday.  Hop on over and look at the other posts.

Comments

  1. Well, I did end up with two pieces of asparagus from the day before, but none the size of a twin bed! Ha ha. Love the collection of recipes. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. What a day of foraging that way, though! So much fun. Thank you for your beautiful post.

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