Asparagus Recipe Ideas
In season April-June. Plump sheeny stalks, as firm as possible. Asparagus doesn’t keep well so eat it as soon as possible after buying. If your asparagus looks a little bedraggled, treat it like a cut flower: cut the bottom off the stalks and immediately place in a jug of water.
Asparagus has great decorative potential, its subtle olive colour lending glamour to most dishes. Try these:
Cook, then dip in melted butter or in warm egg yolk/hollandaise/mayonnaise or other egg-based sauce. But, whatever the accompaniment, if asparagus is presented in whole stalks, always pick them up with your fingers. Using cutlery is a faux pas on the same level as asking a restaurant waiter to heat up gazpacho
Mix cooked asparagus into soft scrambled egg, perhaps with a little smoked salmon
Scatter slices of cold, cooked asparagus into any green salad. It goes particularly well with minty dressings, pea shoots and peas
Pasta & Risotto
Asparagus and a sprinkling of lemon juice lifts a bowl of pasta, oil and cheese to treat status. Peas and artichoke hearts are good additions. The same goes for risotto; but rather than trying to cook the asparagus within the hot rice, we find it easier to to boil or steam it separately, before chopping and stirring into the risotto at the last moment
Asparagus goes well in the typical egg & bacon quiche, and you can arrange the stalks in star or cross patterns on top to great effect
Open asparagus tart looks highly impressive and cheffy but it can be terribly easy — unlike tomato tarts, say, you hardly have to prep the asparagus at all. Just make a filling – there are many recipes, usually involving eggs and cheese, especially soft cheeses like ricotta or cream cheese – then spread the filling on a rectangle of puff pastry, arrange the asparagus on top, and bake. Those with more time on their hands can make a round tart with flaky pastry and arrange the asparagus in fancy patterns
Asparagus is a legendary aphrodisiac, possibly because it has distinct male and female versions; it used to be served before weddings in France. It is full of vitamins, minerals and folic acid, making it an excellent addition to the diet during pregnancy, and also contains rutin, which protects small blood vessels from rupturing.
The ancient Greeks called it asparagos, meaning a shoot or sprout, and used it to cure everything from toothache to heart disease. Originally referred to in england as sperage or sparagus, around the 18th Century the name was often corrupted to, rather prettily, sparrow grass; this still survives in the Malay Peninsula as saparu keras.
Asparagus can come in shades of purple and red, which turn green when cooked.
In the UK, it is traditionally grown in East Anglia and the Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire (where the annual festival takes place from April to June — go to EVENTS).
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