Sunday, 4 November 2012

Wild Asparagus in Southern Spain

Wild Asparagus


The Slow Food movement and foraging are currently in vogue, and rightly so.
With ever-increasing populations, failing harvests and changes in climate there is a need for us to be aware of what we eat, where it comes from and how we prepare it. Above all, I believe we should be preparing food from scratch. No pre-packed food (the only exception I give to this is dry pasta) - food made so you know EXACTLY what is in the dishes you feed yourself and your family.

I have to admit to not being too much of a forager but if I pass by the food on a walk and I like it, I'll collect it, cook it and eat it. Since I moved to Spain I have been a tight budget and so free food has been gratefully received and I have found ways to eat foods that I previously did not care much for.

One food I have liked for many years is asparagus. Steamed and served with butter, freshly ground pepper and hollandaise sauce for dipping it is wonderful. As an element in a risotto it is divine and as the key ingredient in a soup it is out of this world.

For two years I lived in the campo (countryside) and, unbeknownst to me for the majority of those two years, the prickly green bush that was a mere fifteen feet from my gate was delivering up wild asparagus. As I was unaware of the jewel sprouting beneath my feet the sprouts turned from edible gorgeousness to prickly untouchables - what a waste. I have learned, however, and so am more than aware of the potential of a prickly bush when out with the dogs. The Spanish have been quicker off the mark than I though and my latest rambles have come up blank. The solution is to buy the foraged vegetable from the men who  have made the effort to get up early and pick it. For €2.50 I was in receipt of 350g of wild asparagus and with rain an almost permanent presence at the moment soup was the favoured recipe option. The recipe below took less then twenty minutes from unprepared ingredients to a bowl of tasty soup.

Recipe


Ingredients


2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
400g asparagus, finely chopped (if using wild asparagus reduce the amount to 250g)
500ml hot vegetable stock
freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp double cream

Preparation method


  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and gently fry for four minutes, until softened.
  2. Add the asparagus and cook for another two minutes.
  3. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Season with freshly ground black pepper and reduce the heat to simmer for 5-7 minutes, until the asparagus is cooked through.
  4. Add the cream and blend with a hand blender until smooth.
Sopa de Espárragos
(Paler than you might expect as I added extra cream.)



Hints and Tips

The wild asparagus found in southern Spain is strong in taste, with a slight bitterness to it. Taste the soup as you go; it may need more cream in order to alleviate that tartness.

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