Although we can begin to find them since autumn, it’s in early spring that wild asparagus appear in all their splendor. Of a more intense flavor than the cultivated asparagus, they appear in the middle of a species of low shrub of thorny stems that grows in dry, rocky places and in full sun; close to olive trees, walls and along the paths. In Portugal, you can find these from Douro to the Algarve, passing through Ribatejo and especially in the Alentejo. I didn’t foraged these myself but I went through some work, for I purposely went looking for the old man that is selling them by the roadside, in little bunches tied with a string, and praying that he would not tell me, as it has already happened on other occasions, “I’m so sorry but you should have come sooner, I have just sold the last ones!”
Wild asparagus belongs to a type of cuisine that is simple and genuine and they’re often served with a few scrambled eggs or in an omelet. Keeping this essence, I just added two potatoes, a new onion, another sign of spring, and a few pennyroyal leaves to give some aroma and made a wild asparagus Spanish tortilla that we can eat still warm, on a spring rainy day, or take in a picnic basket, on those spring days that already look like summer span>.
Wild asparagus Spanish tortilla
- 250ml (1 cup) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large potatoes (about 500g), peeled and cut into thin slices
- 1 new onion, cut into thin slices
- 8 large eggs
- 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 200g wild asparagus
- Sea salt and black pepper (preferably, freshly ground), to taste
- Some pennyroyal leaves (you can use mint)
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Heat the olive oil in an oven-safe frying pan, about 25 cm in diameter, in medium-low heat. Add the potatoes and onion, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes more, until the potatoes are cooked but not golden. Strain the olive oil, reserving it.
- Take each asparagus spear, fold it until it breaks and discard the bottom tip. Cut the asparagus into small pieces, keeping the top tips slightly larger.
- Put the same frying pan back on the stove, add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil you previously reserved and the potato mixture. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the asparagus, the pennyroyal leaves and season with salt and pepper. Pour the eggs over the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes in medium-low heat.
- Put the frying pan in the preheated oven. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the eggs are set and cooked and the surface is slightly golden. Serve the asparagus Spanish tortilla warm or at room temperature. If you are taking it for a picnic, let it cool completely before packing.
Did you have any asparagus left? Why not make this asparagus, tuna and eff sandwich?