Seasonal Ingredient of the Week: Asparagus

Have you ever noticed how seasonal produce reflects the weather and season? Take May for example: we're well into spring, heading towards summer, and our plates are filled with spring greens, garden peas, asparagus, radish, rhubarb and jersey royals - a palate of light greens, bright greens and pastels. Now take a look around: the trees and grass are getting greener, there's blossom round every corner and the days are brightening up too: all perfectly displayed through our plates. Soon we'll be in the heat of summer, surrounded by bright berries, vibrant stone fruit and bright salad leaves. 

One of the biggest signs that spring has arrived is the welcoming back of asparagus. It is the epitome of spring veg, heavily featured in restaurant menus and food blogs. And with good reason, there's nothing quite like lightly grilled asparagus spears on a warm spring evening. 

Available locally grown from May - July, asparagus are the young shoots of a cultivated lily plant, and very labour-intensive to grow which may be part of the reason for their high class reputation. There's three different variations available: purple asparagus from France, Dutch white Asparagus and the more recognisable green asparagus from Britain and America, each grown slightly differently but similar in taste. 

RECIPE IDEAS 

- Keep it simple. Simply brush with olive oil, sprinkle with himalayan salt and roast for 15 minutes, or grill for 5. Drizzle with lemon juice and enjoy. 

- A brunch staple too. Try dipping steamed or grilled asparagus spears into a softly boiled egg, or add to your brunch plate along with smoked salmon, poached eggs and your bread of choice. 

- Looking for something a little more indulgent? Wrap asparagus spears in proscuitto ham then grill for 5 minutes. 

- Raw asparagus is also delicious. We like to make ours into asparagus ribbons, added to a salad with pomegranate seeds, radish and avocado.  

- It also works perfectly in a risotto. Try using coconut cream for the creamy texture, and add asparagus along with spring peas and lemon juice with a handful of hazelnuts to top. 

- They also work well for a spring frittata. In the spring months we often like to replace the sweet potato in our frigate with chopped asparagus spears.