Its spring and that means asparagus season is in full swing – in fact asparagus is one of the first vegetables ready to be harvested in spring. I can never get my head around the fact that such a delicious vegetable thrives in seemingly barren garden beds, that seem eerily reminiscent of a moonscape.
Each spring when I visit my parents I seem to have the same conversation with my Dad. I gaze at the seemingly empty garden bed and ask when is the asparagus going to be ready. Each year the answer is the same; now. Sure enough, early next morning, as if on command, asparagus spears have pushed through the soil and are standing at attention, ready to be harvested.
I had to be quick to get this photo so that you could see what I mean about the garden bed. I’m not as early a riser as my Dad and invariably by the time I have had breakfast and wander out to the garden he has picked the day’s vegetables.
I love the fact that unlike their commercially grown cousins, homegrown vegetables are not homogenous. Some of the asparagus spears are fat and lush, others thin and spindly. The asparagus crowns lie dormant under the earth all year, and in spring send out their shoots; asparagus spears. As a general rule the fatter the spear, the older the crown. In a long-established, self seeding garden bed you never know what you will get. There are those that maintain that male crowns produce superior spears. It seems that unlike their female counterparts,the alpha males produce thicker, larger spears simply because they put no energy into seeds and have no weedy seedling problem. Well, with that information it isn’t too hard to play spot the male and female asparagus spear. But I digress; I didn’t intend for this post to become an asparagus biology lesson.
So what to do with asparagus spears. I love to wrap them in prosciutto and simply barbecue them on the grill. There is no real recipe to follow other than to take an asparagus spear, wrap it in prosciutto and grill, turning frequently to get a lovely char all over. No need for oil. The saltiness of the prosciutto pairs beautifully with the sweet asparagus. It’s the ideal finger food for a casual get together. As for the smaller, spindlier spears I like to bundle them together and then swaddle them in their prosciutto swags.