Monday, April 6, 2015

Foraging for Wild Asparagus

For the past several years, early in spring, I have had the chance to eat wild asparagus that grow on the farm grounds of family property here in Virginia. And, every year I try to catch these beauties growing, wanting to cultivate them myself and document the process. This year, namely this passed weekend, was my year!

Realizing we were in the early April window, I had high hopes of spotting the first asparagus coming up. The wild asparagus can be quite elusive as you can see in the picture below. If you are not paying attention and looking closely you will easily breeze right by, or worst yet — step on them (which did indeed happen).

After a quick lesson in harvesting I learned you don't just snap these guys off at the base. It's better to carefully bend the stalk and insert your knife under the ground to cut the stalk just below the soil but above the crown of the plant — this helps promote for future growth.

Never foraging for asparagus before I wasn't really sure what to expect. I initially thought there would be this area on the ground where I might see tens of hundreds of asparagus popping up and in delight I would be in the middle of the field doing my best Snoopy dance. Well, it wasn't quite that rewarding but imagine my surprise when I spotted that first lone stalk rising up so proud and pretty!

I've read that these guys can grow 6 inches in a day when the conditions are exactly right and have heard once the full crop starts to come in that they can be challenging to keep up with.

It was such a beautiful day and an amazing place to be on a Saturday afternoon. Evidently, these were the first stalks of the year and they come from a small patch that were originally planted around the end of World War 2. There used to be a fence line along the roads and edges of the field and birds would help to spread these plants as they sat on the fence doing there, ahem, business and dropping seeds. 

I was thankful for a beautiful day, coming across 14-16 stalks which was just enough for one to nibble on raw that night and use the rest for breakfast to share the next morning.

It really does make a difference when you hunt and find food on your own — it definitely makes me think about when it was more of a seasonal practice to do so as opposed to counting on someone else to grow this food for the masses. One thing you can count on is, I will be back to hopefully enjoy more of these foraged finds as long as the season will allow.

Some of my favorite asparagus recipes:

As always,

E.A.T. local E.A.T. well

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Chef's Table — Season 1 on Netflix

I am really excited for The Chef's Table docuseries coming to Netflix later this month, Sunday April 26 to be exact! I'm even more excited that David Gelb is behind the project. To give you a taste of his style and to get you primed — Jiro Dreams of Sushi is an incredible story he directed which profiles sushi chef Jiro Ono, an 85-year-old master whose 10-seat, $300-a-plate restaurant is legendary among Tokyo foodies.

The Chef's Table features six of the world’s most renowned international chefs, and offers viewers the opportunity to go inside the lives and kitchens of these culinary talents.  The chefs featured include Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy), Dan Barber (Blue Hill Restaurant at Stone Barns and in New York City, USA),  Francis Mallmann (El Restaurante Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, Argentina), Niki Nakayama (N/Naka Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA, USA), Ben Shewry (Attica Restaurant in Melbourne,  Australia) and Magnus Nilsson (Fäviken in Järpen Sweden). Yeah — quite the lineup.

I am getting hungry just thinking about this! Will you be watching with me?

E.A.T. local E.A.T. well

Monday, March 30, 2015

How To Cook Dandelion Greens

Foraged greens are the first of the spring vegetables, coming in even earlier than asparagus, according to Rebecca Wood. Leave it up to this resilient weed to want to be the first and strongest to poke its green leafy head out amidst the cold! Lately, and over the past couple of years it hasn't been unusual to see these nutrient-packed, bright, long leafed greens hitting local groceries and farmer's markets.

Dandelion greens are known for their bitter taste and vary in their degree of bitterness, especially wild versions. I find that adding a little hot vinegar or apple cider vinegar right at the end of this dish helps take away some of the bitterness.

  • Large bunch dandelion greens, rinsed of dirt and rough chopped with stems
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Splash of hot pepper vinegar sauce (apple cider vinegar can be used instead)

Heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring frequently just until the garlic starts to brown.

Add the chopped dandelion greens in and toss well to coat. Pour in the vegetable broth and simmer, stirring occasionally over medium heat until the broth is almost completely absorbed.

Toss in pine nuts, lemon juice, then add the vinegar and mix to incorporate. Serve hot or warm as a side dish — or make it a meal by serving with a couple of fried eggs.

I am so looking forward to everything spring has coming. What are you most looking forward to?

E.A.T. local E.A.T. well


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...