Thursday, 26 April 2012

Foraging for Wild Aspargus

Forage walk
What better way to spend an afternoon than scouring the 'hedgerows' for wild food (if you have wandered in the Mediterranean you will know that you won't find a 'hedge' as we here in the UK know them, but I'm referring to the edges between cultivated, or in this case abandoned no longer cultivated, land.)

We recently returned briefly to the farm where we lived last year in Spain. What luck that it's peak asparagus season, our friends there have been enjoying this wild delight a lot over the last month and they took us out for a walk.

Wild Apargus
 The stems, thinner than the cultivated variety we are familiar with, weave their way up and through the stalks of older shoots of the same plant, which look a bit like little pine trees.
Preparing to cook us an asparagus tortilla

You can locate the new sprouts by looking carefully among the older feathery plants which have grown old, not spotted by a forager. It takes a while to get tuned in, and it took us a while to find any, whereas Caty, who has had plenty of practice was able to find lots.

 The flavour is stronger than their juicy cultivated cousins, bitter sweet and unique, they haven't quite got their delicate texture but they make up for this in taste and the joy of the hunt.

Spanish Tortilla with Wild Asparagus

We had plenty of fresh eggs from the chickens at the farm, so the perfect meal seemed to be a tortilla. I wanted to make a Spanish style tortilla, which uses potato's, and I added some chorizo to one of them which was a tasty, if not necessary, addition. Every Spanish family seems to have their traditional recipie.
Ingredients for 2 tortillas, to feed 8 hungry people
6-8 potatoes
10-14 eggs
As much wild asparagus as you can find
1-2 onions
Seasonings - Salt, pepper, Paprika, herbs if desired, thyme is good - but you don't want to overpower the asparagus

Nearly ready to eat

Basic Method

Thinly slice you potatoes (waxy if pos.) and fry in olive oil with a little salt.
When potatoes are cooked, remove from oil with a slotted spoon and put aside to cool. This is done so the heat from the potato's doesn't cook the eggs too quickly.  You can also use pre boiled, diced potato's (this won't be so authentic, but it will be quicker and easier).
Chop your Asparagus and onions (if you desire)
When the oil is cool, store most of it for another meal, leaving some in the pan for shallow frying.
Add onions, fry till translucent. Add asparagus.  Cook for a few minutes. If you adding chorizo, do it now, if not add paprika and any herbs you want. While veggies are cooking crack your eggs into a bowl, whisk and season - you'll want 1 to 2 eggs per person depending on meal size and hunger.

By now, potatoes should have cooled sufficiently- I put them in the freezer to speed this up a little, although I expect this isn't the best for the freezer.....
Add them and mix in with veggies then pour over the eggs, shake pan to ensure eggs fill all the gaps.
Cook on a low heat until the egg is nearly solid through.
Now the scary bit, and fun, don't worry - you need to flip it! If its cooked enough, and your pan is good it will be fine. Release edges from the side of the pan with a spatula, cover with large flat plate - and flip.
Replace pan on heat and slide the tortilla back onto the pan bottom up.
Cook for a few more minuites then it should be ready.
Serve with bread and enjoy! Or save it till later and eat cold.

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