WITH the summery-spring feel in the air, we are starting to see new season vegetables slowly hitting the shelves. I could be jumping the gun announcing that the good ol’ asparagus has arrived, but they are slowly knocking on the doors of London’s top restaurants. Normally in its peak around late April, this week a couple of asparagus boxes hit the market and we jumped on them.
Asparagus is a serious contender for heavyweight champion of the vegetables and is a winner on every menu. The asparagus season is relatively short but the British asparagus is worth the wait for its unbeatable flavour and freshness.
The best thing with the asparagus is that they need very little preparation for cooking.
When buying asparagus, look for the British stamp of authenticity rather than grabbing a jet lagged bunch from the other side of the globe. It’s also a handy tip to look for firm but tender stalks with a deep green color and pay special attention to the tips looking for crisp closed petals. The asparagus will quickly deteriorate so it’s best to get cooking once you have them home. However they will survive a few days in the fridge with a damp paper towel around the base of the stalks.
Give them a good wash under cold water and remove the woody bit by holding the base of the stalk and bending it forward. The stalk will snap where the tender stalk meets the tough woody end. Once this is done we can get cracking on with one of my favourite recipes below. Simple but a chance to really taste the freshness of this great vegetable.
Asparagus can be grilled with a light drizzle of olive oil or roasted in the oven for a few minutes. Steaming or boiling in lightly salted water brings out a refined flavour of the asparagus, especially seasoned with rock salt and a drizzle of olive oil or a knob of top quality butter.
Classically asparagus marries well with new potatoes, rosemary, tarragon and eggs of all kinds. A soft boiled egg with a couple of grilled asparagus stalks makes a tasty treat to pass around at the BBQ with mates. Here’s a beaut recipe to impress with. Enjoy and happy cooking!
Grilled asparagus with soft egg and anchovy dressing
What you need:
1 bunch of 12 asparagus
2 soft boiled eggs
3 anchovy fillets
Good quality olive oil
½ tsp of Dijon mustard
Good quality sea salt and black pepper
Small pinch of freshly chopped parsley
What To Do:
Take a small griddle pan and place on a medium heat.
Toss the asparagus in the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.
Place the asparagus on the grill and slowly allow the grill to score the stalks all over.
While this is happening, take a small mixing bowl and add the anchovies, mustard, splash of olive oil and parsley.
Using a fork, whisk the dressing until the fillets are broken up and the oil is combined with the mustard and parsley.
Remove the stalks from the grill and place on a large platter to slightly cool.
Take the eggs and break them up over the asparagus covering the dish with the runny yolk.
Drizzle the dressing over the dish and a good splash of olive oil and cracked black pepper. (You can easily substitute the anchovy for bacon or mushroom if you wish).