I am a huge fan of asparagus. In May, I could eat fresh asparagus (both green and white), new potatoes and butter on most days and be very happy (OK, maybe I would need some bacon, too). You know what’s even better than the good old asparagus, though? Wild asparagus! To be honest, I don’t think it’s actually objectively better than cultivated asparagus, it just sounds more romantic and special. Anyway, no matter the ultimate ranking of asparagus varieties, the wild version certainly does taste good.
If you’ve never seen them, wild asparagus spears are thinner than the ones you’re used to and have a beautiful pistachio colour. Not quite as tender as the best cultivated asparagus can be, they also never get as woody as their bigger siblings often do. The taste is similar to green asparagus, but can differ depending on the soil. It grows in many places all over Europe – including Estonian islands – but can be tricky to see in the tall grass. One can find it in spring at the markets in Brussels in Spring and I’m sure elsewhere in the world.
In case you come across it and you love cooking and/or asparagus, I suggest you buy a bunch or two. It works in any recipe where you’d use the cultivated variety: creamy asparagus risotto with a little truffle oil, asparagus and herb omelette, asparagus with poached eggs and prosciutto, asparagus-and-cream pasta, asparagus tart and asparagus quiche…
You can of course also just eat it on its own, without much adornment. I usually like to oven roast asparagus, but I think wild asparagus is best boiled (as always, take care not to over cook). You only need to add a little butter and salt to turn it into a great dish – parmesan shavings, fried morels and hollandaise sauce are all very much optional. The only thing I really strongly believe is that asparagus needs to be eaten almost immediately after cooking. But that’s usually not an issue.