Very few of our greens can cut it as a starter or side course by themselves, which makes asparagus king of the versatile veg.
It’s the fact that asparagus tastes great with just a bit of butter or olive oil that makes it the cream of the crop.
But as the vegetable is currently seasonal, perhaps it’s time to experiment and use it as an ingredient in a wide variety of dishes.
Risotto, flans, soups, salads, even pizzas – you name the dish and asparagus works well in it.
Barbara Crick, who runs Emsworth Cookery School, urges cooks to get their greens while their fresh. ‘If you buy British asparagus when it’s in season, it tastes so much better than if it’s been imported and about five days old. Asparagus goes very dry and quite woody, so it’s important to go for the fresh, local spears that are nice and green.’
And she has some basic cooking tips too. Wash and cut off 3-5cm at the tail and pop it in to steam or boil for three to five minutes, recommends Barbara.
‘The trick is to leave them with a little bit of crunch. They shouldn’t go soggy,’ she says.
Asparagus and smoked salmon salad
1 pack (approx 125g) asparagus tips
135g watercress and salad leaves
100g smoked salmon
2 pre-cooked beetroots, cut into eighths
· For the dressing:
3 tbsp horseradish cream
2 tbsp yoghurt
1 tsp white wine vinegar
Black pepper to season
1 lemon, juiced
Place the British asparagus tips into a pan of boiling water and cook for three to four minutes.
Meanwhile assemble the salad leaves and watercress onto two small plates and lay on the smoked salmon.
Add the beetroot. Then drain the asparagus tips and lay on top of the salad.
Finally mix the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the salad with lots of black pepper over the top. Finish with the lemon juice.
Recipe from british-asparagus.co.uk