The other day our organic weekly market even had big bunches of fat green asparagus grown right here in Umbria - just 10 km from Todi. Just pulled out of the soil in he morning - can you ask for any fresher!!!!
For us asparagus is really this very seasonal vegetable - that we only eat in late spring early summer - would never dream of buying these imported almost luminescent asparagus, that you find in the shops outside of the real growing season.
But then when they are here - well then they are on the menu more or less all the time - in antipasti, primi, tarts, sides or mains - you name it - we have a recipe for it all.
Umbria in general is also big on the wild asparagus - once the roses starts to bud in early spring - you will see all the order guys in town walking around in the forests and road sides looking for this delicacy - and it truly is - rich in asparagus flavour and just one of the first fresh produce after the winter galore of cabbage, greens and root veggies. The wild asparagus is great in a frittata, scrambled eggs or pasta - here in Todi we make a little twist on the classical Carbonara - add the wild asparagus - and suddenly it's called "alla Boscaiola".
We like these as an antipasto, piled onto a bruschetta with fresh sheep's milk ricotta or as a side for a good roast.
Asparagus al forno
big handful of green asparagus, about 600 g
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
small handful of thyme, leaves only
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper
5 slices guanciale, cut into match sticks
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
small handful of parsley, chopped
Heat your oven to 220c degrees.
Peel the lower part of the asparagus, leave the tips intact. Rinse well and place in an oven proof dish. Add garlic and thyme and drizzle over the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Give it a good mix with your hands to make sure all asparagus is coated with the oil.
Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, shake the tray after 10 minutes.
Mean while heat a small pan and add the guanciale. Once it starts to brown and crisp up, remove from the heat and pour in the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and add the parsley.
Pour over the roasted asparagus and serve right away.
Yes - make sure to eat the seasons best produce......