Artichokes may be Rome’s claim to fame, but just outside the city in the Campagna Romana there is also an abundance of wild asparagus, which grows near olive groves. You can buy it at the market for about €40 a kilo, but with some patience and a good eye and about 2-3 hours you can have a walk in the Castelli Romani and become an asparagus forager in your own right.
One of the reasons for the abundance of greens such as asparagus and artichoke is because all of these foods grow easily in the roman countryside. Artichokes grow like weeds, as do all the other bitter greens you might see in the market. Since the Roman kitchen is essentially a “poor kitchen” these country vegetables became the heart of some of Rome’s most famous dishes.
Please enjoy this Roasted Wild Asparagus recipe:
• 400g. of fresh asparagus, trimmed
• 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 medium golden onion(sliced)
• 2 cups Arborio rice
• 1/4 cup of dry Italian white wine(I use Frascati)
• 6 cups of vegetable broth
• Coarse Pink Himalaya Salt (to taste, I used about 1 tablespoon)
• Pre-heat oven to 220 C
• In an oiled baking pan, toss the asparagus with 1/4 cup olive oil and coarse salt, and then put them in the oven for 10 minutes.
• While they are roasting…
• On medium heat in a non-stick deep pan(non-stick great for sticky risotto), simmer 1/4 cup olive oil and white wine and sliced onions and salt and pepper.
• Heat the onions until they are more or less clear and then remove them from the oil, leaving the oil in the pan.
• Stir in rice into the hot oil and stir for about 2 minutes so the rice absorbs onion flavor, and is slightly toasted
• Make sure to stir well, and slowly, you don’t want the rice to burn.
• Slowly stir in a cup of broth on low/medium heat, until it is absorbed and then stir in another cup of broth, and continue until you have stirred in all the broth.
• While you are stirring the broth into the risotto, check on the asparagus, about ten minutes after placing them in oven, and if they have slightly browned, turn them over for another 5-10 minutes until both sides are brown.
• After asparagus are done, slice then in 1-2 inch pieces, Throw them into the risotto pan, and stir them in. The five cups of broth should have been adequate, but if not, add water and always stir. Stir until the texture is creamy and the rice is al dente
• We enjoyed this with a bottle of non-oaked Chardonnay from Alto Adige.