So let’s get a move on!
The wild asparagus is one of the most distinctive Istrian delicacies, and any local gourmet can tell you that it is at its tastiest when you harvest and prepare it on your own! As a true gourmet and nature lover, I eagerly await spring and the sprouting of the seeds, and this spring I was joined by a group of curious friends in the traditional asparagus harvest in the forested terrains of Northwest Istria. My friends required some instructions for the seemingly simple task filled with the big secrets of small masters.
Ready, steady – go asparagus!
As soon as we headed out, however, it became clear that it was going to be more than a typical walk in the nature. Some people were apprehensive: what if we came across snakes? I waved it away because I knew that we had with us all the necessary equipment. The only thing to be feared was the occasional scratch! Namely, the asparagus is often hidden by not particularly gentle vegetation, which requires a little attention and perhaps the occasional maneuver in handling the bushes around the less accessible samples.
Anyway, as you will soon have a chance to see for yourselves, they key is to train your eyes to recognize these esteemed wild plants, and perhaps discover the occasional specimen that the others have missed. Once you reach the title of “Hawkeye”, few asparagus will escape your attention. In addition, one needs to be able to tell apart the asparagus from similar plants that sprout at the same time, and are edible but not as highly estimated. The asparagus is somewhat thicker, while the other plants can have flowers and sometimes branch out.
When harvesting the asparagus, one should be particularly careful in avoiding picking the plant from the root in order to enable the new offshoots to come out in the same place next year. It is enough to hold the asparagus close to the root, bending it gently and adding to the pile with others when it snaps. That way, its tastiest part is picked while new plants for the next season are preserved. Once people learn the basics, they all fall under the spell of this specific type of fresh air activity. The true nature and good food lovers simply have to find some free time for this enterprise, because they know how fulfilling and regenerating it is. Just imagine: an educational walk in a beautiful landscape, most commonly in good company, which culminates in – a delicious dinner!
From the field to the frittata
We now have a collection of green bunches – so what next? The asparagus can be cooked, baked, prepared on the pan, the barbecue or the steam, and it can even be eaten raw. Still, the taste that has made it famous is only released when exposed to higher temperatures, so we might prefer making them in one of the following ways. After an almost entire day spent in the nature, for dinner we opted for one of the simplest, but at the same time tastiest and most popular dishes with asparagus. What we mean is the so called frittata.
We fry the asparagus on home-made olive oil and garlic, adding some Istrian prosciutto and spices, and pouring on top some beaten eggs. Add a glass of the Istrian Malvazia or other wine of your choice, and you’ve got yourself a true gourmet fantasy! The remainder of the asparagus can be used for tomorrow’s lunch – perhaps the pljukanci pasta, or a more demanding recipe.
The best part of this? We have experienced a day of true hedonism while eating incredibly healthy! Fresh asparagus is among the most nutritively balanced plants in the world, as it has a small calorie content and is rich in vitamins, fibers and minerals. In addition to having a stimulating effect after intense intellectual activity, they have been famous since times long passed as an excellent natural aphrodisiac. All in all, it is an exceptional dish for all those who like to eat healthy and at the same time enjoy gourmet delicacies, particularly those delicacies that are to be found by spending time in the fresh air and enjoying the beautiful scenery?