Asparagus season is the time you will see Germans going crazy for a vegetable. I am no exception and once the first white stems appear at farmers markets, I will welcome back old favourites but likewise try out new recipes.
If we Germans speak about asparagus, we typically speak about the white stuff. Although green asparagus is consumed here too, it’s popularity is far below its white cousin. I can’t tell you where the love affair of Germans with white asparagus originates. But a true love story it is. Round about 125,000 tonnes of asparagus are consumed during the relatively short season (from around end of March to the 24th of June, which is the official end date for the German Spargelzeit).
It’s easy to figure out that during asparagus season, asparagus must be put on the table a couple of times per week in many households. Otherwise, how would you achieve these numbers?
Though most Germans will claim they love the traditional asparagus recipes most, thankfully, there are plenty of innovative ways to create new dishes as not to tire having asparagus on the menu constantly.
One of my favourite asparagus recipes of late is this delicious tart combining both white and green asparagus along with another absolute favourite of mine, wild garlic. Don’t worry if wild garlic is not in season anymore, you can easily substitute it with spinach or other green herbs of your liking.
Recipe: Green and White Asparagus Tart with wild garlic
Serves 4 – you need a tart tin of about 25×12 cm
For the dough
150 g flour
80 g butter
1 egg yolk
For the filling
150 g white asparagus
150 g green asparagus
50 g wild garlic
100 ml cooking cream
50 g crème fraiche
4-5 slices of Parma Ham
In a large bowl, add flour, butter cut into pieces and a good pinch of salt. Knead together until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add 3 tablespoons of cold water and the egg yolk and mix until it forms a ball. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for about an hour.
In the meantime, wash and peel the white asparagus and cut off the ends. If the stems are quite thick, cut them in half lengthwise. Wash and cut off the ends of the green asparagus.
Wash the wild garlic and pluck into large pieces.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
In a bowl, mix cooking cream, eggs, and crème fraiche. Season with abundant salt and pepper.
Take the dough out of the fridge. Dusk a workspace with some flour, then roll out the dough to line the tin. With a fork, put some holes in the dough.
Put in the oven on the first rail from the bottom and bake for 10 minutes.
Take out of the oven, and fill with the egg-cream mix. Distribute green and white asparagus and wild garlic on top and bake for another 30-35 minutes.
Take out of the oven, top with the Parma Ham cut into large pieces.
Serve while still warm.
Wine pairing: Wine and asparagus
When it comes to pairing wine with asparagus, you will likely come across lots of claims it is one of the most tricky foods to be paired with wine.
Here in Germany, to take some of the worries off the customer, during asparagus season shops and appropriate websites will offer wines declared to be ‘wine that go well with asparagus’. Indeed, selling the right wine to pair with asparagus has become an industry of its own over here.
Thankfully though, there are quite a few wines that pair well with asparagus.
In general, refreshing and crisp wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris/Weissburgunder and unoaked Chardonnay work well as will Riesling, grüner Veltliner and Gewürztraminer.
I have paired the asparagus tart with a Cabernet Blanc, which is a crossing of the Sauvignon Blanc grape and an unknown hybrid grape variety. It was created in Switzerland in 1991 and is predominantly grown in Germany and Switzerland but you will also find plantings in Austria.
The Cabernet Blanc variety is part of the fungus resistant PIWI wines, bread with climate change and a growing risk of infestation in mind. The flavour profile is similar to Sauvignon Blanc and certain Rieslings.
Do you have a favourite wine to pair with asparagus?