Don't they look pretty? Good enough to eat?
These are stems of wild asparagus gathered from the woods on the other side of town. When she arrived they were carefully washed and wrapped in kitchen paper, but they were a bit droopy. She told me to put them in a glass of water and treat them like a bunch of flowers until I was ready to eat them. And that's precisely what I did. It was miraculous how they perked up and looked wonderful again within a few minutes of getting their feet wet.
I love foraging, and it's something that the good folk of the Costa seem to excel at. There's a positive cornucopia of wild food here - if you know where to look. But I have to admit that, without my friend's help, I wouldn't have had a clue where to look for the wild asparagus.
But what to do with them? They looked so pretty that at first I was loath to chop them up and eat them. Marian suggested that a tortilla would taste very fine if it were to be flavoured with the delicate fingers fried gently in some olive oil. I should explain that here in Spain a tortilla is an omelette made with eggs and other vegetables, which will usually include a few potatoes for substance. It's fried in a pan to look just like a cake, and then eaten in slices like a cake. It's hearty, honest food.
I enjoyed looking at my asparagus in their little vase on the countertop in the kitchen for a day or so, and then started to worry that they would spoil if I didn't use them. Finally I took the plunge and used them in a tortilla. They were heavenly adding a delicate asparagus flavour.
If you'd like to make one you'll need:
6 large eggs, lightly beaten and seasoned
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
3 medium sized potatoes ( I used 5 smallish potatoes)
Bunch of wild asparagus (optional: the tortilla will taste great with, or without, the asparagus. You could substitute fine-stemmed farm asparagus)
salt and peper
Olive oil for frying
1. Peel the potatoes, chop them very finely and dry them with a clean T-towel.
2. Fry the peeled potatoes in a pan with plenty of olive oil over a low heat. The trick is to get them cooked through and golden rather than crisp and brown. Finely chop the onion and add to the pan to fry with the potatoes.
3. When everything has cooked, using a metal colander strain off the excess olive oil from the potatoes and onions.
4. Beat the eggs. Then mix the potatoes and onions through the egg mixture and season well, bearing in mind that this seasoning will have to carry all the other ingredients including the potatoes, which normally need to be quite heavily seasoned.
5. Using some of the strained-off cooking oil, fry the asparagus for a couple of minutes in the pan.
6. Add the egg mixture to the pan, and leave to cook over a low heat.
7. When it's cooked on one side you need to turn the tortilla. I use a huge paella lid for this purpose, flipping it out onto the lid and then sliding it back into the pan with the uncooked side down. You could use a large plate, but whatever you do be careful not to tip the hot oil up your sleeve. It's a tricky operation given the weight of the pan and its contents.
8. Return the tortilla to the pan and leave to cook on the other side over a low heat.
9. When it's done flip it onto a plate to serve. It's great hot or cold, served with Manchego cheese, allioli and a green salad.