When I saw that the hard to see asparagus that grow uncultivated around our moshav, mainly clinging to the fence that surrounds the road that rings the community, I said to myself that the next omelet would be made with this delicious vegetable. Every year I pick enough for a meal or two, depending who gets to them before me and I fondly remember our visit to Italy in 2003. We had rented a car in Florence after taking the train from Milan to Stresa on Lake Maggiore, to Venice, and then to Firenze. We drove the car through Tuscany, and just before arriving in Rome, we stopped at a small roadside family-run restaurant for lunch. The wild asparagus pan fried with garlic was a savory meal, and I have made them this way every year the end of March/beginning of April, remembering our tour of Italy and enjoying the taste of this fresh, wild delicacy. It seems that I got there first, so this year we will enjoy them in our omelet of the week today as well as a couple of meals this coming week. Hooray!
Asparagus is another one of those edible plants that originated in the middle east and was probably brought to southern Europe by the Romans. What we pick here is a subspecies of the cultivated asparagus and is named Asparagus officinalis spp prostatus. The “fern” of this plant may look soft and fragile, but it is really woody and prickly. If you are not careful and stick your hand into the thicket of the plant to retrieve a tender shoot you will be attacked and suffer a thousand small scratches. Joe Maruca wrote of them in his web page italyville.com with a video showing his cousin stalking this wild asparagus. I also recommend the article on foraging for wild asparagus at sacredearth.com. This ancient remnant of the modern asparagus you buy in the store is like a mini version and has pencil thin stalks. Don’t look for the big fat stalks as they don’t exist. They are, nonetheless equally tasty. Their daintiness merely results in a smaller portion for each person at the table.
As I picked them, I pondered how to prepare them in the omelet. Should they be gently pan fried or lightly steamed first? Should the omelet contain cheese, tahini, or sesame butter? Should pecans, almonds, or mustard flowers be chopped in with the asparagus? I finally decided that since I was going to prepare the omelet immediately after picking the asparagus and using freshly laid eggs, the only added ingredient would be the usual small hot pepper. These fresh and fragile flavors were not to be overwhelmed by anything else. And as usual, Nurit ate her wild asparagus omelet without any hot pepper, allowing only the olive oil to blend with the asparagus and egg flavors.
Here are a few pictures of the contents and preparation to help you understand and be better able to reproduce the production of this wonderful omelet.
Enjoy the picking, preparation and presentation, as well as, of course the eating. Buono appetito — B’Tayavon.