Anyone walking around Marjan, or any other hiking location in Dalmatia these days, might witness a strange situation – people walking around, bent over, occasionally picking something. Wild asparagus season is here! A little bit earlier than usual, but that we can thank one of the warmest winters ever. Usually, it lasts until the end of June, but with this weather, who knows?
Seeing people carrying handfuls of this natural grown delicacy, might trick you – it’s not as easy as it looks to find them and pick them. There are many pickers with years of experience, and their spots, but even if you’re not a skilled asparagus picker, it’s always worth browsing around trees for small bushes seeking wood-like green flowers. At least it requires spending some time outdoors, which is always good exercise. There is something else to know – officially, picking wild asparagus in state ran forests is banned, except if you pay for it. Still, Marjan is off limits – even though protected as a park forrest, responsibility for it lies on city, not the state, so nobody will stop you. Strange, but sometime bureaucracy brings positive outcomes.
Everyone coming to Split, or other parts of Dalmatia or Istria, should taste wild asparagus, and if there is no luck in the woods, there is always another choice – the green market. Just look for (usually) ladies holding bundles of something that looks like barely developed “normal” asparagus, the usual price is between 20 and 35 kunas, or three to five euros, depending on their offer. It’s safe to buy it there, and you will never find them in regular stores. And then what?
There is an easy way to enjoy asparagus, and a good way. There are many ways to cook wild asparagus, but first you will need to do some preparations. Split it with your fingers to separate the woody part from the softer part closer to the flower. The second one is the one you will need.
Asparagus is bitter, and it’s supposed to be that way. So, just boil it in some salted water. In case you don’t like bitter food, you can put a piece of butter in the water, and a teaspoon of sugar. However, it would be the best if you try them both ways.
Now you will turn into a chef – mix asparagus with almost anything that comes to your mind. You can eat them as a side dish, just sprinkled with some olive oil. Or, which is the most usual way, put them in an omelette. Just slightly fry pre-cooked asparagus on some olive oil, and then add scrambled eggs. Adding some prosciutto or pancetta will not go amiss.
Or, why not just dice some hard boiled eggs, mix it with cold asparagus, maybe even some young goat cheese, and just season it with an olive oil? There are also several risotto and pasta recipes.
Asparagus is a very healthy plant, rich with minerals, especially potassium, and vitamins, like B and C. Some say it also has aphrodisiac qualities, another reason to try it.