Updated: Mar 1
We will soon be approaching the season for asparagus.
Stefano's home town and the place where we met is famed for its white asparagus, a sweeter and smoother variety. The fairytale goes a little like this...
"Originating from the shores of the River Brenta the story of the white asparagus began in the 1500's when Bassano was hit with a hailstorm. The crop was destroyed, forcing the farmers to harvest the part that was underground, still white from a lack yet of sunlight. Upon tasting the asparagus the farmer was amazed by how tasty and tender it was, and so began to cultivate it underground as regular practice."
However. it appears more likely that the white asparagus was first introduced from Egypt and in finding a natural affinity with the soil in these region flourished!
In easier times we would bring huge jars of Nonna's white asparagus 'agro-dolce' preserved in oil and vinegar home with us to see us through the year until our next trip!
The green asparagus that we are more familiar with here in the UK, is also popular however and in Italy both varieties are typically served with eggs.
Asparagi alla Bassanese
1 kg asparagus (ideally white but green is also good!)
8 organic eggs
A good wine vinegar
1.Remove the ends of the asparagus and peel away any fibres. Prepare by bringing a covered pan of water to the boil and simmering gently for 10 minutes- more or less depending on your preferred texture.
Incidentally, Stefano says that white asparagus should be kept in water from picking until cooking to retain maximum freshness and are also cooked upright where possible. To try this method, tie them in bundles with string and place in a pot with enough water to leave the tips uncovered. When boiling add a couple of pinches of salt, then stand in the bundles, cooking for at least 15 minutes until they feel tender.
2. Prepare the eggs by adding to a simmering pan and remove after 6/7 minutes to keep the yolk reasonably soft. Run under cold water and peel.
3. Mash the eggs with a fork and season with salt, pepper, oil and a splash of vinegar.
4. Dip them tip first into the egg and eat!