Now, keep in mind, it's not like we went on a scenic stroll through the woods or out in a flowery pasture near a babbling brook. LOL. Nah, we would head for the hot spots in the south suburbs like near some railroad tracks or maybe in a ditch on the side of the road. My dad knew
all of the spots because the asparagus comes back every year, right? As I grew older, we would still venture out to hunt and pick this incredibly delicious and unique vegetable, except I would drive and my dad would spot the "mother plant" and we would quickly pull off the side of the road because it would be a "peccato" (a shame, or a sin, for all of you non-Italianos --- our slang, pronounced "pi cod' LOL LOL) to drive by without stopping to harvest the small crop. Now, as an adult, with a dealer demo plate on the car, I would be thinking, geeeeeez, I hope no one recognizes me out here picking asaparagus right off of other people's property. How could they not recognize me, really. I don't blend. That's what I thought then. Now, I don't care. It's every forager for him or herself. I remember that we would find the "mother plant" and then feel around for the stalks coming up from the ground, like fingers, and every now and then, the stalks would have already been cut by some other Italian-American-asparagus-hunting thief. That would tick me off. But it never stopped us. My dad was definitely an expert in this field. He would check one area and I would check another and I'd say, "none here" and then my dad would go double-check my area and come back to the car with handfuls of stalks and we would both laugh. He could really sniff them out. So, we would fill a big plastic bucket in the trunk of the car, or simply throw them all in the trunk on a bed of newspaper. We would proudly bring them home to my mom who would happily clean, prep and fry them in olive oil. I cannot tell you how delicious it is to eat fried wild asparagus. Simply prepared. Just olive oil and salt (my favorite two things, I'd say) transformed by high heat and a bit of caramelization. Some of the stalks were very, very thin and my mom would often cut the thicker stalks vertically so that they would also be thin. When fried in the olive oil, the stalks would transform into this nutty, crispy and delectable treat. Also, my mom, Amelia, the
Frittata Queen, would whip up a wild asparagus frittata with some eggs and a little cheese. Heavenly. Try frying your asparagus today. Michigan asparagus is available everywhere right now and it's excellent. Roast, fry or grill. High heat is where it's at, baby.
I once took my dad on a little road trip to Saugatuck, Michigan. Asparagus was growing wild all over the place along the road and I eventually was forced to blindfold Frank so that we could have a relaxing drive, without pulling over. LOL. Just kidding.
Michigan Asparagus Fact Just 4 U: Michigan ranks third in the nation for Asparagus production producing up to 25 million pounds annually. That crop is worth $15,000,000!
More quick asparagus tips from KPK:
Roll a few stalks of grilled or roasted asparagus in some goat cheese (just in the mid-section) and wrap with a slice of prosciutto. Grill briefly to melt the cheese and serve. Yeah, your friends will think you're "all that".
Top your cooked asparagus with a poached or fried egg, a little melted butter or a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly grated or shaved Parmesan or Romano. Eat like the Milanese.
Top a big platter of scrambled eggs with a lot of roasted, grilled or fried asparagus (whole) in all their beauty for your next brunch or breakfast gathering. So pretty and so delicious.
We'll be talking more spring veg in the near future. Love and seasonal goodness to all,
Katie's Passion Kitchen
aka Katharine Fioretti