Seasonal Ingredient of the Week: Asparagus
Have you ever noticed how seasonal produce reflects the the environment? Take Spring for example: 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: a colour palate similar to that on our plates. Coincidence? We think not.
And asparagus is the epitome of spring veg. Coming into season locally through April (although it's hit some shelves already), asparagus are the young shoots of a cultivated lily plant, and very labour-intensive to grow. But the taste makes it worth it, and also explains their elitist profile - one of the only vegetables you tend to serve simple, and as the start of the dish. There's three different variations available: purple asparagus grown in France, Dutch white asparagus and the more recognisable green asparagus from Britain and America - each grown slightly differently but similar in taste.
- 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 - the perfect, time-conscious starter.
- Raw asparagus is also delicious. We like to make ours into asparagus ribbons (just use a mandolin), added to a salad with pomegranate seeds, radish and avocado.
- It also works great 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, perfect alongside sweet potato and garden peas.