British asparagus is considered to be unbeatable for flavour and freshness. It’s grown in ‘beds’ and, once sown, takes three years to produce a crop. The bed will then yield asparagus for 15 years.
It’s wonderfully versatile and perfect as a starter or light lunch. It conjures up sunny days and al fresco dining.
Asparagus is virtually fat-free and full of fibre and folic acid. It’s also good for indigestion because it contains inulin, a prebiotic that helps feed healthy bacteria in the gut.
The asparagus season is short, though, starting towards the end of April and lasting about seven or eight weeks, so buy yourself a bunch and try some of our recipes.
5 top tips for asparagus
- Use asparagus as soon as possible after buying – if you can get yours from your local market so much the better.
- Asparagus is sold in bunches. Look for tightly closed tips and firm, bright green stalks that become lighter towards the end. If asparagus is brown or the stalks are ‘floppy’ don’t buy it.
- Store asparagus in the fridge, wrapped in a damp cloth or standing upright in cold water. Although best fresh, it will keep for a couple of days.
- It’s delicious boiled, steamed, roasted, grilled, barbecued or baked in a quiche, or combined with other greens in a pasta dish.
- Eat asparagus hot or cold. Technically it can be eaten raw, but cooked tastes better.
How to prepare and cook asparagus
- To prepare, trim off a little of the woody stem, rinse well and it’s ready to cook.
- Boil or steam asparagus for 3–6 minutes depending on thickness.
- To roast: toss in a little olive oil, spread out on a baking sheet and roast in a hot oven for10 minutes, turning occasionally.
- To grill, chargrill or barbecue: brush with a little olive oil and cook 3–6 minutes, turning regularly.
- You really don’t need butter or Hollandaise sauce – the flavour is beautifully enhanced with a little olive oil and a grind of black pepper.
- Try asparagus drizzled with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Makes a fantastic brunch served on a toasted wholemeal muffin with a poached egg.
- Dip cooked spears into a runny boiled egg.
Recipes for you to try:
VIDEO HOW TO COOK: Asparagus, pea and spring onion risotto