There’s nothing more satisfying to me than discovering wild patches of edible green things just as they are reaching their peak.
Since ramps (wild leek/onions) that still dapple the hills here and there are just about over, I’ve started setting my sights on wild asparagus stalks.
My friend has an undomesticated patch right where a septic is going to be (bummer), so this season will be the last for this particular section of miraculous tender trees.
When carefully moving through the weeds the other day, pulling out what was unnecessary, some of what seemed to be dried out junk turned out to be last season’s stalks that had gone to seed. And, as I adjusted my eyes each time, without doubt there were a few new stalks next to each old one, making their way up toward the sun.
Having a jack knife or pruning sheers close is always handy, because a quick easy slice at the base is all that is needed to gather as many as are ready. And with each cut, more sprout, for a constant supply.
Asparagus spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils. Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer -- actually, asparagus will send up shoots all summer long, but growers stop cutting them, which allows the spears to grow into ferns, which produce red berries and the food and nutrients necessary for a healthy and productive crop the next season.
An asparagus planting is usually not harvested for the first 2-3 years after the crowns are planted allowing the crown to develop a strong fibrous root system. A well cared for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted. The larger the diameter, the better the quality! Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which in high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. Even better news: Asparagus has No Fat, contains No Cholesterol and is low in Sodium.
Not only is it great right out of the garden, it is amazing roasted in the oven with peeled fresh garlic cloves, olive oil and salt and pepper. My favorite is in an omelet:
Whip up eggs with raw milk, oregano, sage, rosemary, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and ground black pepper. Pour into a heated skillet that has been coated with melted butter. Keep flame/burner on low/medium flame so the eggs don’t stick. Peel away the edges as the eggs cook and let the parts that are still runny trickle underneath so it becomes like a frittata. Sprinkle with thin slices of Asiago or any stinky savory cheese (Stilton will do just fine). Cut fresh asparagus stalks in half lengthwise and the other way so you have thin strips to lay over the eggs and cheese. Cover the pan with a lid and turn off the heat. The cheese will melt, the asparagus will steam and roast a bit and the bottom of the dish won’t stick. Make some toast or something in the meantime and voila. So good.