Making the most of seasonal ingredients this May is a priority and when beautiful vegetables such as asparagus are knocking about it.
Although we look upon asparagus as something of a vegetable delicacy, its distinctly woody flavour is something to be lapped up, not feared.
High in vitamin A and C and packed with iron and calcium asparagus is a great accompaniment to summer suppers. Asparagus can be quite pricey so make sure that when you are placing it into your shopping basket, that the stalks are straight and firm and the tips perky rather than limp to ensure you get the most out of it.
The ends of larger spears of asparagus are inclined to be quite tough and although edible, don’t make for a pleasant experience. With these, lightly bend the spear until the asparagus snaps naturally and discard the woody end. The great thing about this seasonal favourite is its versatility. Boiled, steamed, grilled or roasted all makes for different flavours.
Five Ways to Cook Asparagus
Place a large griddle pan upon a medium heat and put your bounty of asparagus onto the heat. Cook for five minutes, turning each stalk a few times throughout the process. Asparagus works well with most herbs so it is prime opportunity to use any fresh herbs in your kitchen such as parsley. Finely chop your herbs and mix together with a glug of olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Plate up your charred stalks and drizzle your mixture over it.
If the barbeque is fired up, there is nothing stopping you banging your asparagus upon those delicious flames.
Boil or Steam
In a saucepan bubbling with boiling water and a pinch of salt, throw in your asparagus and cook until the stalks are tender. To steam, place your vegetables above boiling water and similarly seek out tenderness in the stalk. Remove both from the heat when you feel there will still be a bite to it. If you are preparing your asparagus for later blanche your vegetables in ice cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.
Reheat in a pan with melted butter or warm olive oil and serve with a squeeze of lemon. Serve alongside a grilled fillet of salmon to optimise the experience.
Preheat your oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and place your prepared asparagus into a baking tin. Finely chop some seasonal wild garlic, which can be foraged even in the depths of the city, and place into your baking tin (thyme also works well). A pinch of salt and pepper and a glug of olive oil, make sure your asparagus is thoroughly coated. Roast for five minutes.
Asparagus, pancetta and parmesan linguine with chive cream
This creamy dish makes for an indulgent supper pairing the short lived seasonal asparagus with salty pancetta, rich parmesan and a punchy hit of chives.
1tsp olive oil
8 asparagus spears
50g thick cut pancetta (diced)
50ml double cream
50ml vegetable stock
2tbsp grated Parmesan
2tbsp chopped chives
Salt and pepper
* Start by cooking the pasta in a pan of slightly salted boiling water until cooked, but still slightly al dente. Drain and drizzle with a little olive oil.
* Put a medium-sized frying pan on the heat and add a drizzle of oil. Finely slice six asparagus spears, with the other two spears cut into four pieces. Put them all in the pan and saute on a medium heat.
*Now add the diced pancetta and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the cream, vegetable stock and Parmesan. Then add the cooked pasta and chives, cook on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. If the sauce gets a little thick, add a touch of water.
*Once cooked, serve with a grating of fresh Parmesan and a little seasoning.
Asparagus, goat’s cheese and smoked bacon quiche
Asparagus pairs well with eggs. Whether drowned with rich homemade hollandaise, paired with softly poached eggs, thrown into a frittata or in this case incorporated into a quiche, it just works.