Wild Asparagus (Asparagus Acutifolius)
Wild asparagus are the sprouts of asparagine. It is a small bushy evergreen perennial plant and the top of the shoot, the turion, is the most tender and edible part. They are thinner than the cultivated asparagus, but much tastier. The asparagus is a characteristic plant of the Mediterranean scrub. In Italy, there are several types of asparagus, which grow spontaneously. Some rarer species are the Asparagus stipularis with a darker color, tending to black, which we find in Sicily and Sardinia. The Asparagus albus, on the other hand, has white stems and harder thorns as its characteristics.
The harvest period for wild asparagus depends on the season but runs from late March until June. Preferably you have to collect the newly sprouted shoots because they are more tender and therefore tastier.
The wild asparagus have a high nutritional value: they are made up of 90% water, but they contain little sodium, a low percentage of lipids and very few calories (only 25 per 100 grams). They are rich in provitamin A and vitamins of group B, C, E, and K. Wild asparagus contain mineral salts including potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and phosphorus
Asparagus was already sought after by the ancient Romans. The emperors liked asparagus so much that they sent special vessels for the collection and had several recipes to cook them. In fact, there are so many delicious recipes to make with asparagus: pasta, risotto, scrambled eggs … Below you will find a recipe for making tasty asparagus crepes:
Ingredients (6 persons)
- 50 g flour
- ¼ Liter of milk
- 3 eggs
- 80 g butter
For the filling:
- 500g Asparagus
- 2 Spoons extra virgin olive oil
- some red pepper
- a glove of garlic
- 50 g grated parmesan cheese
- 50 g butter
For the béchamel:
- 50 g butter
- 50 g flour
- 1/2 liter of warm milk
- snuff of nutmeg
Stir the flour with two eggs and one egg-yolk until you have a smooth batter; join some salt and bit by bit the milk. Beat up stiff the white of egg and stir it carefully through the batter. Melt 20 g of butter, mix it with the batter and let it rest for one hour in a cool place.
After this hour you melt some butter in a little frying pan, pour as much batter in the pan until its bottom is covered with a thin layer. Fry the crêpe on both sides until it is lightly coloured. Repeat this until the batter is finished.
Boil the milk. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir the flour through it. Keep on stirring for some minutes. Watch out that the mixture does not colour brown. Join bit by bit the hot milk; every time waiting until the sauce becomes hot again and smooth. Join in the end some salt, pepper and nutmeg. Let the sauce cook, always stirring, for some more minutes. When it becomes too thick, dilute it with a little more milk
Pre-warm the oven on 180°. Remove the hardest part of the stem and cut them into chunks of about 2/3 centimetres. Boil the asparagus for about 5 minutes. Warm some olive oil in a frying pan, squeeze the garlic and join the asparagus, then add some salt and pepper according to one’s own taste. If you like, add a pinch of chili pepper. Fill every crêpe with the asparagus mixture, pour two spoons of béchamel over it, strew some grated cheese and then the roll them. Put the rolled crêpes in a buttered oven dish. Pour the rest of the béchamel over it and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese.
Let the crêpes ca.30 min in the oven. Serve them very warm on the table.
Have fun collecting them and ‘Good appetite’!