During garden cleanup last weekend, I considered my sprawling hops vines, dried and new. They sprawl because I have not yet re-erected their trellis after last year’s windstorm. (It’s on the everlong To Do list.) And like any curious gardener and hungry person, I plucked and took a nibble of a new shoot.
Not bad, I thought. Bright, even. Surprisingly not bitter like its fruit.
Sure enough, they’re edible, and sure enough, some previous group of hungry gardeners, Europeans mostly, have figured this out…indeed, there’s a market season for the green ones in Italy (bruscandoli), and the Belgians blanch and even pickle them (jets de houblon). So to tame their sprawl and fill my maw, I brought some in to the kitchen.
Like asparagus, they’re best fresh. I have seen plenty of recipes for risotto con bruscandoli, which sounded fine…but risotto’s a dish I make annually with the first big harvest of asparagus so I didn’t wish to upstage that primary vegetable. I blanched them in a bit of water to knock the hairs off, then sautéed them with young leeks, the first of the green garlic and some olive oil…and then tossed the lot into a waiting dish of hot fresh egg-y pasta, spring herbs and about a teacup’s worth of new ricotta. A dash of chive blossom vinegar and a bit more butter, salt, and pepper…toss…mmm.
A fine quick spring repast. Shared with a chilled glass of white wine and a large salad, this meal might just be repeated…next year.
Actually, I did repeat an eat: the next night I braised some with asparagus and green garlic. We had company for dinner and it was a hit.