untitled design (1)

Learn Italian online

Foraging for Wild Asparagus in Abruzzo

About two weeks ago I started noticing people walking along the country roads with bunches of green stems in their hands.  Italians in rural areas still go foraging for food: snails, mushrooms, blackberries.  I knew that and craved for an authentic food-adventure.  So next time when I saw another hunter-gatherer I slowed down the car and, risking being accused of stalking, followed the lady carrying those mysterious pointy stems.  It took me only a few moments to identify them: wild asparagus!  Of course, it is spring and the most delicious sprouts are popping out everywhere.  And, as it happens, next day I got a phone call from an Italian friend inviting me to go foraging for asparagus.

Wild asparagus is hard to spot

Spotting challenge

There are many different varieties of wild asparagus in Italy.  The one we have here in Abruzzo loves shady corners with well drained soil and plenty of rocks.

We walked along the paths and minor roads looking for those elusive tasty spears.  It is not easy, wild asparagus shoots hide under their mother plant.  And that’s the trick: look for ’la mamma’, the grown-up feathery bushes spread in the shade of trees and rocks.  After a few minutes my eyes were accustomed to the combinations of light and shade and I found my first glossy spear: purplish and slender, then a second, and another one.  There was no stopping me!  An hour later I had a generous bunch of shoots, enough to start me thinking of all the different ways I could cook them.

Cooking wild asparagus

As asparagus grows almost everywhere in Italy there are many regional asparagus recipes.  The spears can be boiled for a few minutes and served as a side dish with a splash of olive oil and lemon juice, or added to an omelette.  The tender tips have a delicate flavour and, in my opinion, taste the best with as little cooking as possible.  I asked around in my village to see how the locals cook asparagus here and decided to make a simple pasta dish.  I cut the shoots into medium length pieces, and then fried them for just 3-4 minutes along with some finely chopped red garlic from Sulmona, a little locally grown pepperoncino (chilli pepper) and a few shavings of lemon zest.  With this divine flavoursome mix I topped cooked spaghettini (a thinner variety of spaghetti) and sprinkled  locally produced pecorino sheep cheese over everything.  The result?  Wildly delicious!

think in italian logo dark bg 1

Stop reading, start speaking

Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.

Hunting for wild asparagus is a good excuse to come to Italy, as is trying out all of Italy’s asparagus recipes.

Anna Lebedeva
Anna Lebedeva

About Anna

Anna Lebedeva has lived in Russia and Ireland for many years. Now she lives and works as a freelance journalist in Italy.

When not researching or writing her next article, Anna is trying to grow organic vegetables in her garden or persuading her lively floppy-eared dog Gogol (named after the Russian writer) not to trample on the seedlings. She loves creating her own vegetarian recipes, cooking, hiking in the Apennines or simply relaxing with a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine.

Most Popular

Artful Moves

Italy is in, Blog from Italy’s sister site dedicated to showing off Italian contemporary artists and their art to the world, attracted the attention of an Italian hacker.

Cat’s Milk Mozzarella

In the southern Italian village of Rosaneto in the Basilicata region of Italy, they have cats, lots of them. Indeed, there are so many of these felines that the residents of Rosaneto didn’t know what to do with them. Until, that was, enterprising local entrepreneur, Franco Latitante, had a bright idea. Why not use cat’s milk to make mozzarella?


Related Posts

skin diary

Skin Diary’s Heart of Glass Cover

You may not have heard of the band Skin Diary, a power pop rock group which seems to be doing rather well in Berlin and has recently released a cover version of Blondie’s classic hit Heart of Glass.

Skin Diary’s interpretation of Blondie’s song is not half bad. Well, I like it, and you might too.

The weather…..again

Regular readers will know that the weather is one of my pre-occupations – it should be seeing as it was the 'orrible climate that got


Ah, I've managed to categorize everything I've written since the beginning of this year.  I shall have a go at last years scribblings shortlyish. Stop