The sandy soils that separate Ferrara from Bologna are home to a plant with ancient origins, bursting with beneficial properties. PGI green asparagus from Altedo was renowned and cherished as early as Roman times, having reached the shores of Italy from far-off Asia. This variety of asparagus is now so widespread that it grows naturally in the woods and pine forests along the Adriatic coast.
Not everyone knows that the edible part of asparagus is the first shoot or spear, which in the case of the asparagus variety that grows between Ferrara and Bologna, is mildly flavoured, delicate and not at all woody; wild asparagus, on the other hand, has a thinner and more flavourful shaft.
As for the vegetable's beneficial properties, asparagus is most reputed for its diuretic effects. But that's not all: asparagus is also rich in fibre and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium, not to mention a great source of folic acid too.
In cooking, it is often incorporated into pasta dishes, like in a classic asparagus risotto, but it may also be served as a side dish, boiled and dressed with oil and salt, or perhaps even in a gratin. The Sagra dell’Asparago Verde IGP harvest festival is held every year in May in Altedo, and makes for an excellent occasion to sample traditional and innovative asparagus-themed dishes alike.