It’s spring here in the campagna Romana (Roman hinterland) , and you surrounded at the moment by seasonal treats: wild cicory, wild garlic, dandelions and flat weed, wild asparagus and a similar spring growth from an unrelated bush: Ruscus aculeatus (Butcher’s broom).
How perfect, the visit from your good friend Marga gave reason for a sumptuous meal: Risotto agli asparagi selvatici e turioni di pungitopo, as a first course, followed by another very seasonal Insalata di cicoria selvatica.
So, wild asparagus are the spring growth of a ramificated, bushy, scrub, which every year shots out from the roots new branches. If picked while still young and tender they make a fantastic, sweet, and healthy meal.
(images by Marga, thanks )
Same idea for the Butcher’s broom growth, just a bit later in the season (we are now at the end of the asparagus season and the beginning of the Pungitopo’s one). You have been feasting on wild asparagus for a while, but this was the first time you actually found also some Pungitopo’s sprouts.
Watch out for the sharp leaves (which are not really leaves but flattened branches, but don’t want to distract youse) of the Pungitopo, and the rather scrubby fronds of the Asparagus as well. Basically you might need to suffer a bit, but absolutely worth it!
below is the recipe as Marga wrote it:
Make a stock with what ever you have to hand and add the chopped asparagus and pungitopo tips (the asparagus will need a little longer to soften) to tenderise them, remove from the liquid when the are cooked but not mushy and reserve the stock.
In another pan sweat some chopped onions and wild garlic or chives in some good oil till soft, season and then add the risotto rice and mix for a minute or so so that all the rice is nicely coated.
Add a ladle full of your stock and keep stirring till the stock is all absorbed, keep repeating this action one ladle at a time till the rice is cooked to your taste, just before the end add the asparagus/pungitopo tips.
Serve with a wild green leaf salad known around here (outskirts of Rome)as cicoria, chopped up with some onion, wild garlic, a hard boiled egg, seasoned and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice…