In May the king of the market is his majesty the asparagus!
A noble vegetable known since the Egyptians, the Romans cultivated it on the beaches of Ravenna for its therapeutic and aphrodisiac abilities. The Roman emperors had built ships in order to go to get asparagus in May and for this they named the ship Asparagus.
It knows its splendour thanks to Napoleon, it was inevitable in his intimate dinners for its aphrodisiac properties. While in America the Indians used it as a medicinal plant and today it is still used for its therapeutic properties against gout, kidney stones and rheumatism. In short: it is a diuretic and purifies.
The wild asparagus are the best, small and tapered that grow out of the ground like spears that want to pierce the sun, so in English these are known as asparagus spears. I remember the mornings in search of precious asparagus gems in the scrubland of Roscigli, the ancient abbey under Gavignano and at the gates of Montelanico. It is said that once it was the villa of Caesar and that afterwards the Basilian Monks of Grottaferrata took charge and they turned it into a monastery.
But let’s go back to the asparagus: even those grown are no less wonderful, the whites of Bassano del Grappa are fascinating. Do you know why they are so white that they look albino? They grow under the ground and do not see the sunlight so they do not activate chlorophyll photosynthesis. The violet spear is a white asparagus that has put its head out, while the green one has grown totally in the sunlight.
White, purple or green asparagus is good in every way. Today I make a very simple and quick egg noodle just to eat immediately. A little warning: unlike many vegetables, the larger ones are more tender.
Recipe of Asparagus Tagliolini with asparagus cream
If you don’t have the patience to go to the woods, then go to the market to look for the best ones. In this period, people can also be found along the country roads selling their precious and tasty harvest.
First we remove the best spear tips and put them aside so as to be able to create the final set design for the dish and give pleasure to the eyes as well as the taste buds.
We steam the stems and put them in the mixer together with a bit of Parmesan, oil and a grated lemon. Adjust with salt to suit yourself. Then whip the cream with a little cooking water from the pasta when it has already taken the aroma of egg noodles.
I do not give you advice on pasta. If it is Sunday and you have time you can prepare it and spread it out in just over an hour, otherwise buy a good homemade pasta. Watch out for the type of flour with which it is made!
Halfway through the cooking of the tagliolini, we add the best spears, previously separated, to the water for a blanched finish. Then quickly drain the pasta and asparagus tips and add the cream. If you leave a little cream at the bottom of the plate the game is done and the setting is complete.
And for wine? I must confess that I chose a good Pinot Bianco from Friuli!