There’s nothing like asparagus fresh from the garden. It’s at its very sweetest and most flavoursome when freshly cut, as apparently the sugars quickly turn to starch after picking. So if you buy it, try and get it as close to the source as possible – and at least don’t leave it lying around in your fridge for too long!
In terms of recipes, for us the first few servings have to be lightly steamed (3 minutes) and eaten with butter or olive oil, some parmesan & black pepper. As the season goes on we tend to get more creative with it:
- Griddled with olive oil & garlic is good, with a dash of lemon juice.
- With pasta – spears cut into 3 or 4, steamed with maybe some purple sprouting or some peas. Add to pasta when ready to serve, with some grated parmesan, a squeeze of lemon juice and perhaps a dash of cream.
- In frittata or quiche – lay out the spears in a clock fashion with the tips facing the centre of the quiche.
- With poached egg and mushrooms, perhaps on a muffin with hollandaise sauce!
- Or if you want to get really creative, with polenta as in the recipe below!
Grilled asparagus with polenta and watercress cream
50g butter or a vegan slug of olive oil and good handful of yeast flakes
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
200g watercress, roughly chopped
75 g of sorrel leaves, or wild garlic or spinach
Zest of 1/2 lemon
225g cream, dairy or soya
- Boil up 3 litres water and salt well. Add polenta in a steady stream, stirring continuously. Allow the polenta to bubble away, stirring very regularly (you might want to half cover with a lid as it can get a bit volcanic!). Test until you think it’s ready to eat, then add butter or oil & cheese or yeast flakes. Pour into an oiled baking tray and allow to cool.
- Fry onions & garlic in olive oil until soft. Fold in the watercress and remove from heat to wilt. Whizz up with lemon zest and sorrel, wild garlic or spinach. Return to pan and heat gently.
- Cut up polenta into triangles and rub each side with olive oil. Heat up a large griddle pan, and once sizzling hot, grill polenta triangles so they have char marks on them (or for an easy life, you could serve polenta warm without frying!) . Set aside and rub asparagus in olive oil and griddle until tender and charred.
- To serve divide warm watercress cream between plates and top with asparagus and polenta wedges. Shave parmesan over it and serve.