Before I get to the wild asparagus, I have to tell you about the events of the day that led up to it…
I live in a small city and work in the big city, but I am a country girl at heart. I love horses, farm animals, barns and the smell of fresh hay. One day, I want to have my own place in the country where I can have all of these things all the time. One day… Till then, I take what I can get when I can get it.
Last weekend, my daughter Jessica and I had the privilege of joining my girlfriend Jenn in Cashe Creek to visit her mom Linda and partner Ernie. The three of us have gone up there to visit regularly for the past 11 years but we haven’t been too often in the last two years as Jenn has been living in Africa. Linda and Ernie have a house in a small valley just outside of Cache Creek. They have a few horses, two dogs, a cat, and a river running along two edges of the property. A small slice of paradise for us city slickers, although I think they would agree. I could tell you a whole bunch of stories about our wonderful visits with Linda and Ernie, but this time I will stick to the present…
This weekend was particularly special because not only did we get to go for a ride, but Ernie arranged for us to join Trace from Bar M Ranch and help him move some of his cattle up and over a hill into the next range. So Friday morning, we loaded up the three horses, Cleo, Harry, and 4 year old Topaz. We drove over to the Bar M, jumped in the saddle and went to find the cows. Boy are they loud when you start moving them! Momma cows calling to their baby calves and the calves calling back… We moved them up a big hill, collecting all the strays and stragglers as we went. Some of the babies were SO little and they were just adorable! Jessica was a little worried that a bunch of calves seemed to get separated from their mothers. But apparently, cows are very good mothers and when a cow and calf get separated, they will both go back to the last place that the calf nursed. Isnt that cute? A built in meeting place!
Cow dogs in action are pretty neat too. Linda and Ernie have two border collies, Keerie and Buddy and they came with us, along with a few dogs of Trace’s. Its pretty cool to watch the dogs listen to their masters commands and herd the cows. Keerie and Sheppy, one of Trace’s dogs, are both younger and they often were a bit over zealous in their herding tactics! More than once a momma cow charged at them bellowing and trying to knock them into tomorrow. Those mommas can get aggressive when they are protecting their calves!
Two hours later we headed back to the ranch, a little sun and wind burnt, a bit saddle sore, and very dusty, but happier than pigs in shit. Trace passed out beers as we packed up our horses and shortly, we headed home appreciative of our experience and thankful that Trace had been willing to give us green horns a chance to ride with a purpose.
The next plan for the day was to go down to the river and pick wild asparagus! Yup, that’s right, wild asparagus! I had tasted it years ago when Jenn had some, but I had never been to pick it myself. Wild asparagus is like no asparagus you have tasted before. It actually tastes similar to sweet peas, if you can believe that. It grows wild along river banks in dry sandy soil. That’s pretty much all I can tell you about where to find it. Those that know the spots keep them secret and only a select few know where to go. If I told you, I’d have to kill you…
Ernie, Jess, Jenn, the dogs and I went down to the river that afternoon. At first, the asparagus is difficult to spot as the spears grow among all the other grasses and brush. If you are lucky, you will find a couple growing together but I didn’t see any more than 4 or 5 spears growing in one spot. We walked along the river shouting out excitedly every time we found a good one. My puppy, Vegas was in doggy heaven! A river, a beach, tall grass to run through, and two other dogs to play with. She kept running off and then returning more dirty each time, tongue hanging out, a big smile on her face, and once with a fish skeleton in her mouth!
Isnt she a pretty girl?
The spot had recently had other pickers come through. We could tell by the number of broken off asparagus that we saw, but we still managed to get a fair crop. When we got home, Linda had dinner almost ready so we quickly added a bunch of asparagus to a pan with a little butter, garlic, salt and pepper and pan fried it for a couple of minutes. It was hands down, the best asparagus I have ever tasted! After dinner we sat around and had a drink, but all of us could barely keep our eyes open. Even the puppies were exhausted. One by one we disappeared to the comfort of our beds for some well-deserved rest. What a fantastic day! Thank you Linda and Ernie for another wonderful visit!
As we headed home the next day, I decided along the way to make an Asparagus Tart with the pickings that I had taken home.
Shortly after I got back from Cashe Creek, Debbie and I got together and came up with this recipe. You dont need wild asparagus for this recipe of course, but if you can find it, use it. The sweet wild asparagus is perfect on this puff pastry tart with prosciutto, peas, tomatoes and gruyere cheese.
Honestly, it tastes as good as it looks!
The crispy crust with all the roasted veggies on top covered in cheese and sprinkled with prosciutto and basil! Oh man, so good! As soon as this came out of the oven, it was gone! I suggest that if you make this, make two….
Wild Asparagus Tart
- 1/2 box of Puff Pastry
- 2 tbsp Sundried Tomato Pesto
- A handful of fresh Asparagus
- 1/4 cup of Peas , fresh or frozen
- 10 cherry Tomatoes halved
- 4 pieces of Prosciutto , cooked and chopped up
- 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese , shredded
- 3 or 4 tbsp chopped fresh Basil
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
- Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle shape on a piece of parchment paper. You want it to be about 10" x 14", but its really not a big deal whatever size it turns out to be.
- With a sharp knife, score the pastry about 1/2 an inch around the edges. This allows the edges to rise nicely around the tart.
- Spread the sundried tomato pesto all over it and then sprinkle with a little of the cheese.
- Lay the asparagus down across the tart. Then sprinkle the peas and the tomato halves over top.
- Next spread the prosciutto and the gruyere over all the veggies and top with the chopped basil.
- Slide the parchment paper onto a cooking sheet and place in the oven.
- Cook for about 20 mins or until the edges are nicely browned.
- Serve right away!