Asparagus - A green full of goodness
Asparagus is arguably the most popular vegetable within our household, and like most crop, imports are available all year round. But now is the time of year to reap the real benefits and enjoy it within its prime season. The season is short, lasting from May to July, but this is when we get to experience it’s true authentic taste. This fine vegetable is labour intensive to grow which tends to heighten its price, but it sure is worth it.
We tend to be most familiar with green asparagus, being the British and American variety, but the French cultivate a purple kind, whilst the dutch is white.
Whichever you choose, be conscious of its food miles as buying locally from our farmers is key. Not only does it benefit your community but you’ll also be getting the freshest produce possible, so its a win win for grower and consumer.
Asparagus really is a true delicacy bursting with flavour and also goodness. It packs a nutritional punch with high levels of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron and calcium, it’s also a diuretic which explains the curious smell when you go to the loo!!
Be sure to know what you’re looking for when buying. The obvious signs are that the tips should be tight and perky, not floppy and the stems should be firm and straight.
When you come to preparing them, there’s little to do but to just give them a wash. However if you have the larger kind, instead of chopping off the woody end just bend the spear until it snaps at its natural breaking point ensuring there is minimal wastage.
When it comes to cooking you can’t beat it boiled (for approx 3-5mins) or steamed (for approx 4-5mins) and served with its classic accompaniment Hollandaise sauce, simple yet a practically perfect dish. But if you fancy being a little more adventurous here’s a few of my favourite ideas to get you going.
Instead of hollandaise, drizzle cooked asparagus with some balsamic glaze and a sprinkling of chopped and toasted hazelnuts and serve alongside your main meal.
Or why not try laying some parma ham on a board, spread over a little boursin, sprinkle over some toasted pine nuts, bundle in some cooked stems and then roll the parma ham tightly around the asparagus to form a parcel. Fry briefly to crisp the outside of the ham and serve alongside chicken or fish. This is a great crowd pleasure thats a bit more impressive but still incredibly easy.
Seeing as its season falls within the summer time it seems only appropriate to serve some along with a BBQ. It tastes divine when griddled, the charred edges making it that little bit different. Add a drizzle of lemon and serve alongside your other BBQ’d foods. Or if you’re short for space on the BBQ just peel the raw asparagus into a salad, these fine shavings will add texture and flavour to your normal green salad.
So good luck and enjoy one of our finest vegetables!