It’s Wild Asparagus Time in Colorado!
Each spring we head out to forage wild asparagus. It is one of my favorite things to find and I don’t even like grocery store asparagus! There is no comparison to these fresh, crunchy and delectable wild shoots. The coolest part? They are right in your backyard, hiding, yet in plain sight. Below you’ll find a quick “how to” on getting started. If you hurry, you might still catch some of these delicious wildlings.
Where to Find
Wild asparagus is perennial, it grows in the same spot year after year. You’ll find them prevalently along farm fences bordering irrigated pasture lands. They also grow in moist, grassy ditches and along riparian corridors. If you head to the countryside during springtime, there is a very good chance you’ll see them.
When to Hunt
These guys are some of the first plants to welcome Spring in the Rockies. You’ll typically find them in the first weeks of May, when the lilacs are beginning to bud and the ditch grass is just over mid calf. They are weather dependent in that they do not do well with frost. Some of those early season shoots will occasionally be lost to cold spring nights. You’ll be looking for fresh, new shoots before they get much higher than 12-15″. After this, stalks will start to branch out and go to seed. Once they begin branching they become tough and chewy and are not nearly as delicious.
How to Find
One of the best tips I can provide is to look for old, dried up stalks from last season. Since asparagus grows in the same spot year after year, old stalks are a sure sign of new growth areas. These beacons are easy to spot from the road once you know what to look for! Be aware there are some old, dead stalk lookalikes out there. Do a little field research and get acquainted with the differences. I think for me it’s the color of the stalks that gives them away. They tend to be grayish while the weedy stalks are more brown/tan in nature. They also grow differently out of the base than the weed stalks, these are usually branching out much lower on their base than asparagus. Once you see a few, you’ll get it down.
How to Cook
I have two favorite ways to consume this super food – pickling or fresh cooked as soup. We make a creamed asparagus-avocado soup that is absolutely incredible. With only 6 ingredients, it’s super healthy but at the same time rich, creamy and divine. It’s a recipe adapted from Elena over at As Easy As Apple Pie, we’ve been cooking it for years. Elena suggests you eat it chilled, but Trent and I prefer it warm right out of the blender – try it both ways! Here it is for your convenience:
Asparagus Avocado Soup (serves 4)
- 1 lb wild asparagus (cut into 1 inch lengths)
- 2 avocados
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oi
- 1 large white onion (chopped)
- 4 cups vegetable stock
Start by cooking the onion over medium heat in the olive oil until translucent. Add the asparagus and sauté for 3 minutes. Next add the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 10 minutes. If you have a heat resistant blender such as a Vitamix or Blendtec, you can transfer the soup to the blender right away (if not let cool a bit before this step). Add lemon juice and avocado and purée until creamy. You may need to do this in two groups as the blender is probably not large enough to fit everything in one go. Add a bit more stock if too thick for your liking. You can garnish with herbs, sour cream, asparagus tips, sliced radish – whatever sounds good. Time to serve and enjoy!
I also love pickled things – you’ll find our recipe for pickling asparagus right over here.
Fun Tip: Asparagus come out at the same time generally (weather depending in the mountains) as natural yellow morels and love the same environs. While you are combing through the riverside grasses under large cottonwood trees, keep your eyes peeled for asparagus as well.