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Organic Annie: Foraging Wild Ibiza Asparagus

Organic Annie invites us to enjoy the great Ibiza outdoors and then return home with dinner in hand - welcome to foraging for wild Ibiza Asparagus!

It is March, the scent of Spring is in the air and with it, wild asparagus, the first of the Spring forage. It can be found literally all over the Island, both in the woods, in shade and bright sunlight, frequently along old stone walls or on road sides. One of the great Ibiza pleasures is an early Spring day out picking a basket of wild asparagus. It is thought that people have been foraging asparagus in the Mediterranean for 2000 years, beginning with the Romans. I get the duration of the tradition. Wild asparagus is delicious, simple to prepare and with a few extra ingredients, endless in its variations.

All wild asparagus has a complex network of roots under the ground, but it can be found growing in two ways. Some shoot up directly from the ground, short and plump, like miniature conventional shoots. The other has very long, thin spears and is easy to spot. The plant itself resembles a thin leafed bushy fern. Pick both types just above the part of the spear that becomes woody.

Pick and Eat

Wild asparagus is best eaten on the day it is picked; its natural sugars are at their highest. The longer it is in the fridge, the more bitter it becomes. So try to pick and feast on the same day. Asparagus, when eaten at peak season, quickly after picking can be delicious raw. Try a few spears first to make sure they are sweet and tender enough. With the exception of the soup, the ideas below are great either cooked or raw.

Master Recipe:

Although the method was developed for wild asparagus it works equally well with the cultivated variety. It is fast, ten minutes or so from start to table. The quick cooking both keeps flavour in and sets the gorgeous emerald green colour.


Be sure to sort through and get rid of any woody bits, breaking them off where the tender bit ends. They are not nice and will not soften when cooked. For the soup, the woody bits will ruin the entire pan. Plan on 300 to 400 grams per person, depending on what else you are serving. Wild asparagus is special, I tend to make it the center of the meal and so go for the larger amount per person.

Top Tip

Boiled Spring new potatoes pair well with asparagus and will round out any meal using the recipes below.


In a large sauté pan, add about 1/4 cup water and a good pinch of salt, bring to a rapid boil, add asparagus plus another pinch of sea salt to set the colour. Toss gently with silicon or plastic tipped tongs, (metal is too rough), evaporating the water as you go. When asparagus is fork tender and water is gone, sprinkle with olive oil and toss to coat. The pan will be streaked white with the evaporated sea salt.

If water does not evaporate before asparagus is cooked, dump out the rest of the water and then add the oil, keep the heat on high, toss to coat. It can be nice to add a clove or two of cracked garlic with the oil. Remove before eating. The flavour is a little more bitter than conventional, lots of garlic is of no help, so be sure to remove it.

To crack garlic, peel the clove, then flatten it with the flat side of a large kitchen knife. Be careful to keep the clove whole for easy removal.

More Recipes:

These are great combinations; they are perfect flavour pairings and are on my list of favourite Ibiza eats.

Asparagus with parmesan cheese, white truffle oil and cracked pepper.

1/3 to 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese, depending on the amount of asparagus cooked.

2 to 4 tablespoons of white truffle oil

A couple of turns of the black pepper mill

Sprinkle grated parmesan and white truffle oil over the cooked asparagus; add a few turns black pepper mill. Serve immediately with a crusty bread for soaking up the extra truffle oil and pan juices.

Asparagus, boiled egg and and frazzled ham salad.

Serves 4

500 grams asparagus cooked as above

200 grams Serrano ham

6 eggs

1 half lemon

6 large handfuls washed, leaf lettuces

3 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Put the eggs in a small sauce pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Turn off the burner and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 10 minutes. Cool with cold water, peel and cut the eggs in half.

In a saute pan, heat a tablespoon of the oil and add the ham slices. Cook until crisp, lowering the heat to prevent burning and smoking as necessary. Set aside.

Toss the leaves with a tablespoon or more of olive oil, a teaspoon of the lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a bit of black pepper. Taste and correct.

On a large serving platter, make a bed with the lettuce, heap the asparagus in the middle, arrange the ham slices and egg halves.

Option: 150 grams of goat cheese, crumbled is a nice addition.

Additional Ideas and Variations for the cooked asparagus.

1. Dip in Hollandaise if you are inclined to deal with making a fancy sauce.

2. Make a salad, adding orange, avocado, shaved red onion, red leaf lettuce and a bit of chopped fresh mint.

3. Combine asparagus with grilled prawns and goats cheese, to be served over lettuce with a lemon and olive oil dressing.

4. Wrap small bundles in Serrano ham, black pepper and an herb or two and put them on the grill to crisp for a minute or two.

Asparagus Soup.

Lastly, Asparagus soup is fabulous. This is a delicious and easy version.

Serves 4

1.5 kilos raw asparagus, washed and de-wooded

4 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 pinches brown sugar

1/4 cup white wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

100 grams Croutons

Optional: white truffle oil to finish

In a large sauté pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté the onions over a medium low heat. Cook long and slow to release the sugars in the onions. Add a pinch of a salt, some pepper and a couple of pinches of brown sugar. Do not brown. When the onions are medium soft, 20 minutes or so, add the asparagus and a pinch of salt. Keep on low-ish heat, again to coax out the sugars. Add a shot of the white wine or a little more olive oil if the pan is too dry. When both onions and asparagus are soft, 20 minutes more, turn up the heat, when the pan is hot, add the wine and stir until it has evaporated. Turn the vegetables into a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan. Heat the pan to sizzle and add water to barely cover. Let the soup simmer for 15 minutes, then puree until smooth directly in the pan using a handheld blender stick. Taste and correct the seasoning.

To Serve: Ladle the soup into 4 bowls, sprinkle with the croutons and either olive oil or white truffle oil. There will be enough for seconds.

No time to forage?

If time or the inclination to forage is lacking, do shop. Wild asparagus is available in many of the small Island tiendas (shops). Also in both the New Market, Ibiza town and the Santa Eulalia Market. Have a look around, they are the emerald green or reddish green skinny spears in hand wrapped bundles. Either foraged or shopped do not miss wild asparagus, there is a delicious reason behind the 2000 year tradition.

Note: White truffle oil is available at Ibifoods on the Ibiza/San Antonio road. Direction Ibiza, just after the first roundabout.

To enjoy more from Organic Annie, please see her column on Ibiza Spotlight here - Organic Annie

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