I discovered Wild Asparagus last year thanks to our mates Anja and Micha (you can meet them in the post...) and now I'm hooked. I had no idea such a beast existed and now I can't bear to be without it. I found other types of wild asparagus on the net, but not this type. It grows in between really prickly bushes and blood stained arms are the pride of every spear picker.
The other types I discovered on-line grow basically out of the grass, but here in southern Portugal, they grow out of and into incredibly prickly shrubs. The first time Anja showed them to me, they were growing alongside the paths around the salt marshes. I'd walked past them several times and certainly never noticed any asparagus as they are true masters of disguise.
But I will no longer be fooled, and am slowly becoming the Sherlock Holmes of Asparagus Hunting. The trick is to go a looking for prickly shrubs, then you give it the real once over and see if you can spot a thin stalk weaving its way in or around the original bush. Mostly they hide inside so that you have to stick your hand in and get a few pricks, but this doesn't put off the hardened pickers among us.
Then I discovered these beauties in other places! They are also prolific in pine forests where they seem to use the protection services of Prickly Pear Plants. But I was once again not to be thrown off the trail by some dodgy security service and I persevered and my search was successful. I must interrupt myself here and ascertain what is meant by successful.
In one hour I managed to find a small handful of these deelicious delicacies. Had I bought the same amount at the local market, I would have paid €2...all I can say in my defense is that I like to forage for my dinner. And it is after all only the beginning of February which means the season for wild asparagus is just beginning while the cultivated variety only starts in April. So there.
There was another person in MY pine forest this morning looking for asparagus too. I intentionally use the word was, as once I told him it was private property and he wasn't allowed to steal my babies, he left. Just kidding, giving him the evil eye was more than enough to scare him off. Or was he just sensible and gave up 'cos the harvest was turning into a real labor of love and the Security Plants were doing their job really well? Well, we'll never know now, will we Watson.
The only “negative” aspect of this type of wild asparagus is that it can be a little bitter especially if you under cook it. I found some to be more bitter than others, but can't say why this is so. My recommendation is to cook it slightly longer if you find it too bitter.
HERE ARE A COUPLE OF PREPARARTION IDEAS:
Cook them al dente as you would regular asparagus – boil or steam for 3-4min, checking to make sure you don't overcook them. Now, if you find them too bitter, cook them a little longer. You do risk them being slightly softer than “ideal”, but they are so deelicious it doesn't really matter.
They are also deelicious grilled. Rub them with a little olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt and griddle them for a couple of minutes per side.
With scrambled eggs it's just mind blowing. Make your scrambled eggs as per usual and add the cooked, sliced asparagus for a minute or so before the eggs are done. I love frying a sliced onion, then adding my eggs and then the asparagus. Deelicious.
Okay folks, I'm off to stand guard at the, I mean, my pine forest and wait for my stickly prickly friends to produce more babies. See ya!