Asparagus is a spring vegetable – the shoot (spear) of a fern-like plant, harvested over a period of around 8 weeks. The warmer the weather the faster the spears grow and after the harvesting period is finished, the plant is allowed to grow and replenish itself for the next season.
Purple, Green or White?
Asparagus varieties are either green or purple, white spears have been blanched by excluding them from sunlight, usually by heaping soil around the spears. This gives the spears a delicate flavour.
How Good Is It For Me?
Asparagus is a very low calorie vegetable, having only 20 calories per 100g. It is also very nutritious, being high in folates, B vitamins, vitamin K, antioxidants and minerals.
How Do I Cook Asparagus?
Asparagus is delicious cooked in many different ways, start very simply with steamed or griddled asparagus brushed with a little butter, it’s also good barbecued. Try it on toast with poached or scrambled eggs. Wrap spears individually in pancetta or Parma ham before baking – these are good dipped into soft boiled eggs instead of toast soldiers!
If you want to be a bit more adventurous, wrap spears in boiled ham, roll up in a crepe pancake and top with cheese sauce. Try baking them into a tart or souffle, adding them to risotto, making them into a soup, sauce or pie. Give my Chicken & Asparagus Filo Pie a go.
Don’t forget a salad – the options are endless here, the spears can be blanched or eaten raw, tossed with a mustard dressing, combined other salad ingredients, stirred into couscous or quinoa….
What Combinations Go Best With Asparagus?
Asparagus has quite a mild flavour and is very versatile, eat with eggs for a nutrition packed meal or combine with the rich flavours of ham, bacon and chorizo, all sorts of strongly flavoured cheeses, anchovies, smoked fish and herbs. Herbs that go particularly well are dill, tarragon and chives.
What’s your favourite asparagus dish??