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How to collect and cook wild asparagus – Italian Cuisine


Known in the past also as Sparago, theasparagus it is a herbaceous plant that gives us its best – the bud – in spring. These parts, also known as shoots, are the most delicious part of the vegetable, which embellishes risottos, pastas and seconds.

Respect ale variety of cultivated asparagus, wild asparagus – also called sparasine – offer a more intense taste on shades vegetable, giving a rustic and elegant flavor to meats and eggs. However, they are more difficult to find because they grow spontaneously in woodlands, in the midst of thorny shrubs. But prick yourself for a bunch of asparagus wild it's worth it! Discover how to cook wild asparagus with the advice of Salt and pepper!

Wild asparagus, the philosopher's herb

The wild asparagus are the shoots of a rhizomatous plant known as asparagine. The rhizome develops deep into the ground, creating a reticular structure. What is collected is the aerial part of the plant, which appears in the form of a long woody stem of light green or intense green color, with purple nuances in the vicinity of the tip.

The love story between man and wild asparagus has been going on for many centuries. In fact, it seems that even philosophers were fond of wild asparagus, whose botanical name is Asparagus acutifolius. According to reports Pellegrino Artusi in his The Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Good, already at the time of Pliny, this spontaneous herb belonging to the Liliaceae family, was very much appreciated. It seems that in the past the wild asparagus flourished particularly in the marshy areas.

What is the best time to eat them

The wild asparagus I'm in the midst of their vigorous taste in spring. The shoots are tender and do not require long cooking. Moreover, the beautiful days begin to multiply, giving the ideal climate for a healthy walk in uncultivated meadows, clearings and wooded areas up to 1,300 meters in search of this ingredient.

Very common in the Italy of Center-Sud, are present almost everywhere in the peninsula, except for Piedmont, Valle d'Aosta and Trentino. Plumbing i woods and the thorny vegetations, from late March to the end of June you will be able to procure your wild asparagus on your own.

Is the collection regulated?

In addition to Asparagus actifolius, there are two others in Italy variety of spontaneous asparagus: theAsparagus stipularis and theAsparagus albus. These are very rare varieties.

173719THE'Asparagus stipularis it has a darker color, almost black and grows up to 500 meters above sea level, on the Sicilian, Sardinian and Lampedusa coasts. THE'Asparagus albus it has very hard thorns and white stems. Also known as white asparagus, it is found mostly in Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and some areas of Calabria, as well as along slopes up to 1,000 meters above sea level.

Given that i gatherer of wild asparagus often do not care about the environment in which these wild herbs thrive, some Italian regions have regulated the collection of those that are defined "secondary products of the forest"both as regards the period allowed and the maximum amount per capita available. Veneto, Tuscany and Sicily have issued regulations. In some municipalities, such as for mushrooms, a card must be issued. Lazio the Regional Law 32/98 sets a maximum limit for the collection: 1 kilogram of sprouts per person.

How to clean wild asparagus

Let's find out now how to clean wild asparagus. Remember that they are a spontaneous herb, therefore the daughter of the earth, so the first thing to do is to wash them carefully under water, eliminating soil residues. In some cases, in order to purify them, it is good to soak them in a solution of water and bicarbonate: it will take just a few minutes.

After having dried them, deprive them of the woody part, of the stem, the one closest to the ground, equalize the stems from below with the help of a knife or breaking them by hand. At this point it is up to you to choose whether to keep or remove the outermost part of the stem, harder and more fibrous than the heart. Artusi recommends doing this: to speed up this operation today you can use a potato peeler.

How to freeze wild asparagus

If you don't have to use them right away, we'll explain you here how to freeze wild asparagus and not. After having cleaned and blanched them for a few minutes to bleach them, let them cool and then put them in bags suitable for the freezer. Remember to write down the packaging date and also the amount of frozen asparagus. Since they deteriorate very quickly, it is advisable to consume frozen herbs within 3-4 months.

How to steam cook them

Taking up the voices of those who praised the qualities of wild asparagus in the kitchen, Artusi argues that "this herbage, precious not only for its diuretic and digestive qualities, but also for the high price at which it is sold, boiled that can be prepared in different ways, but the simplest and the best is the common one of seasoning them with oil very fine and vinegar or lemon sour".

Here then is how to cook steamed wild asparagus. First clean them, tie the stems and legal with a string in not too big bunches. Then immerse them in already boiling salted water. Your wild asparagus will be ready when they begin to bend your head, you can be sure of the success of cooking, testing the consistency with your hands. Once removed from the pot (there are pans suitable for cooking asparagus vertically), pass them under cold water for a few seconds.

Wild asparagus: how to cook them in the oven and baked in foil

The wild asparagus in the oven they are an excellent vegetarian side dish to accompany any kind of second course. Simply clean them, line them up in a baking dish lined with baking paper and season with Parmesan, breadcrumbs and a little oil. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 170 °.

Try them in foil, putting them in an aluminum foil, garnished with a little onion and some tomatoes. For a richer version, add some cut zucchini in julienne style. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes.

How to cook them in butter

It is one of the most popular recipes: discover with us how to cook buttered wild asparagus. After having cleaned them, tied in bunches and blanched for about 10 minutes, remove them from the pot and place them in a colander to make them lose the cooking water.

Melt a little butter in the pan together with a pinch of nutmeg keeping the fire burning until it is browned. Arrange the wild asparagus in an oven dish and strain the melted butter directly over the shoots. After that you can dust them with del parmesan or del grain and bake for a couple of minutes. Otherwise you can serve them as they are, enhanced only by the aromas of butter.

Pumpkin flowers: how to clean and cook them – Italian Cuisine


They are prepared fried, stuffed or as an ingredient for delicate first courses: they are pumpkin flowers, delicious and colorful, they add an extra touch to each dish

Good, delicate and very choreographic: they are pumpkin flowers the most known and appreciated edible flowers. They grow both on the courgettes and on the pumpkins, they have elongated petals of an orange-yellow color and on the inside large pistils. In the kitchen they are used fried in batter, stuffed or as a filling for delicious savory pies. They are also excellent for preparing delicate first courses. Pumpkin flowers are typically spring-like and are found on the market attached to courgettes or collected in bunches.

Pumpkin flowers: how to choose them

To be sure of their freshness choose firm, turgid flowers, with a bright color and consistent and semi-open petals. Then check that they do not have dark spots and that they are well attached to the peduncle.

Stuffed, fried or in dough

Pumpkin flowers are often served as appetizer, stuffed with mozzarella and an anchovy fillet. They can be garnished with endless preparations: to stuff them, open the petals well, gently, to prevent them from breaking, and fill them with a cream that must be firm and dry. The filling can be meat, vegetables, fish or cheese.

For an inviting and tasty aperitif, you can fry them after having passed them in a batter made with flour and water, or ice water, rice flour and eggs, for a lighter version. Mix the flour and water well, without lumps forming and then dip the flowers one by one in the batter. Immediately afterwards put them in a pot where you have warmed some peanut oil up to 175 °: fry them for a few minutes, turn them gently and then drain them, laying them on a sheet of absorbent paper to lose the excess oil. Serve hot.

You can prepare great omelettes, adding the whole or cut zucchini flowers to the fried onion, or add the ricotta flowers, eggs and parmesan to fill savory pies. For a delicate first course, add the zucchini flowers to the sauté of a risotto, or prepare a sauce with prawns, zucchini flowers and saffron for a delicious and fresh pasta.

Here are some more ideas the recipes of our archive

How to cook leg of lamb to perfection – Italian Cuisine


Among the main ones lamb cuts, the leg it is among the most delicious, especially if used for cooking roast. However, its perfect yield depends both on the application of some techniques necessary to bone it properly and on the cooking times. Furthermore, another crucial point of this preparation is the marinating. THE'afrore in fact this animal is very intense, due to its young age and belonging to the sheep breed. If not treated with due care, it can ruin the final result of the dish. Discover all the salt and pepper tips to learn how cook the leg of lamb perfectly done.

Boneless leg, with bone or cut into pieces?

The leg of lamb it can be cooked boneless, with bone or in pieces. For Bone the leg of lamb the first operation to be performed is precisely the elimination of the pelvic bone, taking care however to leave that of the shin. Put the piece of meat with the fat on the side of the cutting board, insert the tip of a knife into the pulp following the contour of the bone, until you reach the joint that connects it to the femur. After that, cut the tendons that hold them together and scrape the meat around the bone to remove it. If you prefer to serve it without bones, after eliminating the pelvic bone, incise the meat until it is eliminated shin. Then portion the leg or use the meat deprived of the bone to create a pocket in which to insert a filling.

How much meat for 4, 6, 8, 12 people

A leg of lamb of 1 kg is suitable for a lunch for 6 people. Consequently, by cooking two, you can prepare a second dish suitable for a nice table of friends for 10-12 people. These proportions can also be considered for lunches and dinners for 4 or 8 people: if the meat is too much, you can still use it in some recycling recipe.

The importance of marinating

The leg of marinated lamb it is the most suitable recipe for those who can't stand the intense smell of this meat, but don't want to give up its flavor. To remove the wild greenery, leave the leg of lamb to soak for 8 hours in a mixture of water and lemon. Change the water 2-3 times. You will then have to proceed to marinating. This process can take some time because, as already mentioned, the smell of the meat of this animal is very strong. After finishing the soak, rinse the lamb well with running water, place it in a container and sprinkle it with chopped aromatic herbs. They will be very useful thyme, rosemary, mint, sage is laurel but also berries of juniper, black pepper in gran, onion and garlic. Practice slight incisions on the meat so that these aromas penetrate inside the leg. Pour two glasses of white wine and half a glass of extra virgin olive oil and cover the container with cling film. All you have to do is leave it for a night in the fridge.

How to stuff the leg

Stuffing the leg is a very easy operation, in which you can indulge your imagination. Clicking here you will find the recipe of Salt & Pepper for the stuffed leg. For the basic recipe, the first thing is better Boning the cut, eliminating the central bone. Grease the meat with a little oil and stuff with chopped pancarré, anchovy fillets, parsley, lemon peel, egg white, salt and pepper. Then roll the roast and, for a more satisfying visual touch, insert the bone of the leg that you have kept aside, tying it to the stuffed pocket with food string. Grease everything and put the leg of lamb in a pan. fires at 220 ° C for 15 minutes. Add the wine and vegetable stock and bake in a static oven for 1 hour at 180 ° C.

Another variation in the filling is the leg of lamb stuffed with ham. To prepare it, all you need to do is open the book leg and fill it with chopped ham, parmesan, cherry tomatoes, capers and pine nuts. Then reassemble the meat and tie it with the food string, brown it in the pan with oil and garlic. After that, transfer the roast to a pan: add salt, pepper, wine and let it cook in the oven for 190 ° C. If during cooking you notice that the cooking juices are drying, add some vegetable broth.

Traditional recipes

Given its high digestibility and its low allergenic charge, thelamb it is one of the most popular meats in regional culinary traditions. Usually the lamb's leg "fever" rises during the feast of Easter. It can be cooked in any way (except boiled), remembering that unlike lamb, lamb meat should be eaten to the blood.

Between traditional recipes stand out roast leg of lamb with potatoes or with artichokes, the leg of lamb with Sardinian or Roman style, or baked lamb with lampascioni, typical Apulian recipe.

Roast leg of lamb cooked in the Roman style

One of the main dishes that best represent the gastronomic tradition of Lazio is theLamb Alla Romana. You can also use this recipe to cook the leg because the main feature of this preparation is the addition, at the end of baking, of boned and pounded anchovies.

Sardinian roast leg of lamb

To prepare theSardinian lamb the meat is enriched with potatoes and artichokes, or with green olives, lemon and eggs. In addition, among the ingredients is the myrtle, which gives the meat a unique aroma, typical of the region.

Lamb leg in foil

There baking in foil he can help us in many preparations, including the leg of lamb. Take and add salt and pepper to the meat, above and below the piece. Take a rectangle of baking paper and brush it several times with oil: place the meat in the center. Sprinkle the surface with chopped fresh herbs. leave only the bay leaf whole. Put wine and lemon juice in the foil. Close carefully to ensure that the liquid does not leak out. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 ° C for about 60 minutes. After the cooking time, squeeze the foil to remove a little steam and bring it to the table.

Grilled leg of lamb

To prepare the grilled leg of lamb, eliminates external membranes and remove excess fat. Take a few cloves of garlic, reduce them and insert them in some incisions made on the leg. Ungi with very little oil on the surface, add salt and a mix of aromatic herbs.

Arrange the legs on the grill (preferably with an upstand with an aluminum tray underneath to collect the cooking juices) and cook until the heart of the meat reaches 70-72 ° C. To determine the actual cooking use a thermometer from kitchen. It will take about two hours, taking care to turn the leg around. At the end, let the meat rest for ten minutes before cutting.

Stewed leg of lamb in a pan

The recipe of the Sardinian tradition, the recipe of leg of lamb stewed in a pan it is very simple to put into practice. After boning the piece, tie it with the food string to ensure that it does not lose its shape during cooking. Cut the meat and place a fine mixture of sage, rosemary and garlic inside these small holes. In a saucepan, heat the oil: when it is hot, add the lamb, season with salt and pepper and brown it over high heat over the entire surface.

At the end of this step, combine the finely chopped onion and continue cooking for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point, combine the tomato pulp and cover the pan with a lid: cook over moderate heat for 45 minutes, checking from time to time that the lamb does not stick to the pan. If necessary, add two tablespoons of hot water. At the end of cooking, remove the lamb from the pan, cut it into slices and place it on a warm serving dish. Sprinkle it with the hot sauce you got from the bottom of the pan and serve immediately.