Just like the king of vegetables itself, articles and recipes on asparagus started popping up when spring finally arrived earlier this year (check here for many more, and another quick read about Fat or Skinny…). Well, going by the date, because weather wise I haven’t seen much of Spring. Not sure why asparagus, the Spring crop for many fruit growers, rules over all other produce and where it’s royal reputation stems from – sure it’s tasty, but after the season is over, I’m done with it too. Speaking of which, in fact it ends in 14 days, for Germany anyway. A few more days until June 24th (St. John’s Day, or Spargelsilvester, as it is referred to here) – hurry up!
What I also found interesting to see is that white asparagus is becoming more and more popular worldwide, while locally its green sibling is gaining ground. If neither green nor white asparagus floats your boat, perhaps purple one does? A good friend recommended this place and after we called them up, we basically had our shipment on it’s way. Ok, truth be told, we found ourselves on the waiting list for a shipment :) Apparently they encountered quite a bit of a backlog. Just a day before our shipment was supposed to be sent on its way, they got in touch with us and very politely explained the situation about how they were feeling the recent streak of bad weather and the damage it did to the crop. They couldn’t send the full order, about short of half a kilo maybe. She was so sweet on the phone and I could clearly hear her own frustration with the situation. When the package finally arrived the next day, I sent her a quick email just to let her know that everything was perfect. She had also included a small chocolate treat and a peeler on top. Cool – that’s how you keep customers coming back…
We didn’t expect the purple asparagus to taste much different and were also told that cooking will turn its color to green. The trick to maintain most of its beautiful color is to steam it and generally ensure less expose to heat than needed for white asparagus (purple asparagus cooks about as quickly as the green kind). For the traditional asparagus & hollandaise recipe I’d probably still go with the white one, but for our asparagus tortilla and with the red chilies it was a great fit. And once again Nicky and I couldn’t agree on whether the tortilla is best eaten still warm or the next day…
Cook the potatoes for about 15 minutes. Let cool completely (even over night), peel, then slice or dice. We typically cut them about thumb size. Traditional recipes use the potatoes uncooked, which requires more time and attention when pan-frying – both ways work fine, we’re just being lazy :)
Prepare the egg-mixture: Beat eggs together with milk and heavy cream, generously season with salt and pepper, there’s nothing more disappointing than a bland tasting Tortilla (due to amount of vegetables, don’t be shy about it).
Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan (about 20 cm/8 inch in diameter) at medium heat. Add the chopped onions, the finely cut bacon and the thinly sliced chilies. When the onions become translucent, add the asparagus. Since our last attempt to shave a vegetable turned out quite well, we went for the same technique. Even though the result was nice to look at and to work with (in the pan), it became a bit annoying to cut and eat in the end, so I would go for diagonal slices next time. Usually I add some fresh thyme, but didn’t want to completely overpower the asparagus – no herbs this time.
Pan-fry for a few minutes, then add the potato cubes. To ensure a well balanced seasoning, I additionally add some salt/pepper to the vegetables. Seasoning only the egg mixture turned out to be just not enough (or difficult to measure) on a few occasions. When the vegetables start to receive the one or other golden brown spot (or even more, if you like the roasting aromas), pour the egg/milk mix evenly over the vegetables, until everything is covered. Now cover the pan with a lid – if your pan didn’t come with one, just use one from your pots and let set for a few minutes (over medium heat). Carefully check the bottom to make sure it doesn’t get burned / too dark.
Once the tortilla has reached the desired golden brown color AND the top has set, too, cover the pan with a plate and quickly (!) flip both over to avoid damaging your masterpiece. Carefully let the Tortilla (now upside down) slide back from the plate into the pan and cook for a few extra minutes until done. Enjoy both still warm or cold the next days.
The chili-asparagus combination was an experiment and it turned out great. Any concerns about the chilies dominating the fine asparagus taste were unjustified. On the contrary: Tortilla with a new personality, hot AND yummy :)
Asparagus Chili Tortilla
Recipe source: own creation
30 min. for the tortilla (with prepared potatoes)
Ingredients (yield: 1 tortilla, serves 6-8 as an appetizer):
3-4 midsized waxy potatoes (e.g. Sieglinde, Grenaille)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
5 slices breakfast bacon, finely cut
1 large red chili, thinly sliced
6-8 spears of purple or green asparagus
2 (large) eggs
100 ml milk
50-100 ml heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste