A trip to the south, an array of local produce, wild asparagus and a quiche
Recently we headed out to Alentejo where my mother in law lives, in order to celebrate her birthday. As luck would have it, it was a beautiful day - none of this crap weather we're hit with right now, the sun was out and there was a breeze and everything was bright and green and luscious! - and we actually managed to leave Lisbon quite early, making good time on the road, allowing us to arrive in Estremoz ahead of schedule, which is always an unexpected treat we hardly ever indulge in.
It was a Saturday, and usually on Saturdays Estremoz has its municipal market day, with produce from the region being sold at the square, disposed in a huge array of variety and choice. From parakeets to free range chicken and eggs, from artisan cheese and local olives and olive oil to fresh tomatoes and wild asparagus, it is a wild assortement ready for the pick, once Spring is in full swing there. It makes you woooh and ahhh from one stall to the next, wanting to bring everything with you so you can cook a million dishes or eat it all raw.
Being who we are, we couldn't resist loading up on a few fresh items, and as soon as I saw ladies carrying bunches of wild asparagus, I knew we had to bring some home. I'm addicted to asparagus, I think, and I can go through April and May devouring them at every other meal, but I had never tasted wild ones yet, and I was really curious. Still, being in Alentejo we could never have made it home without stocking up on those sweet olives, the rounded, juicy tomatoes, the cheeses that make my heart go pitter pat, and that sourdough bread that my son adores. And because they were looking and smelling heavenly, we brought a box of raspberries fresh from the vine.
I think it's no surprise when I say I love quiches, I really do like a good quiche, especially in Spring, since my favourite ones are all about the vegetables - tomato, spinach, mushroom, asparagus! So it will also come as no surprise when I tell you that one of these beautiful bunches of wild asparagus ended up in a quiche, along with some of the tomatoes and half a jar of caramelised red onions I made for that kid of mine, who really likes his caramelised onions. I tried a different recipe for the filling, this time around, substituting my usual use of cream for yogurt, and lemme tell ya... the tartness of the yogurt along with the slight acidity of the asparagus is perfect when combined with those sweet tomatoes and even sweeter caramelised onions.
Now, if you've never tried wild asparagus, bare in mind they are slightly different from the ones we tend to find in supermarkets. The taste is a lot more pronounced, a bit tarter, more fibrous, yes, but rich and creamy and divine. I got hooked on these, really, they tasted of a Spring noon by a gurgling river, the sun high in the sky and the bees and dragonflies humming by the water, a meadow of wildflowers greeting you views... yes, this is my idea of the perfect Spring, knowing that I'm scared stiff both of bees and dragonflies (I get hysterical) and suffer from humongous allergies from the polens, so yeah, right, this would be the perfect setting for me. NOT! But it tasted of this thought, this ideal Spring image in my head, and it tasted good. We cooked the other bunch roasted with lemon zest and olive oil and salt, and it was heaven on a plate!
Starting off with the dough:
- 180 gr flour
- 100 gr butter
- 5 - 15 ml cold water (you may need as little as 5 or as much as 15, depends on the flour)
As for the filling, this is a rather easy one:
- half a small jar of caramelised onions (recipe here)
- one bunch of asparagus (roughly 320 gr)
- five medium tomatoes or ten small ones (not cherry tomatoes, if using these make it 25!)
- two plain yogurts
- three yogurts
- salt, pepper, nutmeg