April 11 2012
Often associated with the posh menu roll call of smoked salmon, oysters and quail’s eggs, asparagus has enjoyed a longstanding, chart topping position on the ‘luxury’ list. But as farmers respond to an increasing demand for locally sourced, seasonal food, prices have tumbled: shop now, and you can grab yourself a bundle of 30+ spears for around £2.
British asparagus season starts any day now and continues to around mid-June – and the intensely-flavoured, verdant home grown variety beats the imported imposters on all counts. Look for firm stems with tightly furled tips, discarding any that are wrinkly or turning slimy. Wash before use and, if the ends are very ‘woody’, chop ‘em off. Drop the spears into gently boiling water or steam until just tender (approx. 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness) and serve simply with unsalted butter. A pool of hollandaise sauce gives this classic ensemble luxurious edge or, for a unique twist, try roasting the spears – lightly drizzled in olive oil – in a hot oven for fifteen minutes before tossing them, while still warm, with crumbled feta cheese, a handful of fresh mint and a sprinkling of capers. Other perfect partners include poached eggs and prosciutto, while older spears adapt well to risottos, soups and even stir fries.
Claims about asparagus as an aphrodisiac may be accredited more to the phallic shape of the spear itself than any scientific theory, and over-indulgence may make your wee-wee smell weird. However, this is a natural, harmless phenomenon which, like the asparagus season itself, doesn’t last long.Categorised in: News