The constant rain of Spring 2012 very nearly spelled disaster for the UK’s asparagus growers, and lead to the cancellation of the British Asparagus Festival on the May bank holiday weekend. The earliest spears were being harvested in the last days of March, but then there was a limited supply available throughout April and most of May.
Thankfully the recent burst of sunshine has seen the stems push up and now the majority of shops are stocking this most British of vegetables; just in time for the Jubilee weekend, too.
Asparagus is delicate; it doesn’t travel well. British asparagus generally reaches the shelf within 24 hours of picking, ensuring the stems are lush and juicy, as the sugars in them begin to turn to starch as soon as they are picked.
Of course good asparagus needs little more than boiling, cooling (never eat hot, merely warm) and a drizzle of melted butter. But one of the joys of this crop in abundance during it’s oh-so-short season, is using it in as many ways as you can. Here then, are some of our favourite ‘grass recipes.
This would make a perfect starter for dinner, or a very respectable summer lunch when the weather is hot and you don’t want to sit down to anything more substantial.
Selles-Sur-Cher is a dry French goat's cheese packed with flavour, so it stands out in just about any white sauce very well. The asparagus is perfectly complemented by this robust sauce.
Add a touch of luxury with saffron and asparagus with James Martin's haddock recipe. You're eating the most expensive spice in the world, so make the most of it!
Antonio Carluccio, one of Italy’s greatest food ambassadors and chefs, uses fresh Spring vegetables in this deliciously authentic pasta dish. ‘Pappardelle con Frittedda’ – Frittedda in the Sicilian dialect, means a stew of asparagus, young onions, small broad beans, peas and artichokes. It makes an excellent sauce for the largest size of pasta ribbon, pappardelle.
Making a good risotto is simple. The key thing to remember is to add in the stock a bit at a time and to work the rice constantly as it cooks.
How do you like to eat your asparagus and where do you shop for it? Talk to us in the Comments section below.
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