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Ten ways to serve asparagus this spring

8 ways to serve asparagus this spring

by Great British Chefs 06 April 2017

These green spears are a harbinger of tasty spring produce and can be blanched, barbecued, roasted or fried until they're sweet, verdant and mouthwateringly good. Here are our favourite recipes that put them centre stage.

Asparagus is available year-round, imported from places like Peru and Mexico. But the real deal (which doesn't arrive with the baggage of excessive air miles and a whole load of deforestation) only comes around once a year, ushering in the best of spring’s bounty and paving the way for lots of fresh, green and very tasty dishes that’ll last until the end of summer. Yes, British asparagus is in a different league entirely, sending chefs into a frenzy (they always manage to get it a few weeks earlier than the rest of us) and filling home cooks with giddy excitement.

But while they’re great simply blanched and served on their own, asparagus spears can be cooked in all sorts of ways. They pair fantastically well with a good number of other seasonal ingredients, too, so they can become the star of a dish instead of a vegetable on the side. Take a look at the recipes below and make the most of one of the UK’s finest crops.

1. Enjoy its bright flavour raw in a salad

When they’re freshly picked, asparagus spears don’t even need to be cooked – something Paul Ainsworth knows only too well. Simply split them down the middle, mix them up with lots of other lovely springtime produce (radishes, cucumber, spring onions and chives) and give them a simple dressing of lemon juice and olive oil.

2. Barbecue before dunking in mayo

Spring’s been pretty warm so far, so if you’re itching to get the barbecue out make sure you save some space for asparagus. They cook quickly and charring is a good thing, so they’re easy to cook (just don’t let them fall through the grate onto the coals below). Making your own mayonnaise with British rapeseed oil is another nice touch – after all, asparagus spears are the perfect shape for dunking.

3. Bathe it lovingly in cheese sauce

Cauliflower cheese is so old-school – give the dish a new lease of life by swapping the brassica for lovely tender asparagus. A little mustard and some Worcestershire sauce gives the dish a bit of a kick, while the quick blanching of the asparagus before it goes in the oven ensures each spear is perfectly cooked.

4. Douse it in a herby sabayon

Sometimes cooking the asparagus simply and letting its accompaniments do the showy stuff is your best bet, and this breakfast/brunch dish from Tom Aikens is guaranteed to wow. It takes a bit of effort to put together, but the result is well worth it.

5. Change up the presentation with some sharp slicing

Asparagus looks beautiful in its natural form, but if you’re nifty with a knife they look just as pretty sliced into neat little discs. That’s exactly what Robin Gill does, so he can scatter them over a plate of butter-poached cod and wild garlic flavoured miso. The result is a particularly pretty dish that offers something a little bit different for spring.

6. Dip it in an egg yolk

Duck eggs and asparagus – a match made in heaven. But you know what makes it even better? A scattering of black truffle and Parmesan and a dash of double cream. It can be served as a starter at a dinner party, as a decadent breakfast or a seasonal lunch. What’s more, it takes less than half an hour to cook.

7. Roll it in black truffle (or just make the soup)

How do you make the world’s most expensive asparagus spear? Roll it in grated truffle, of course! While that might be a bit rich for some people’s blood, the accompanying asparagus soup is silky, indulgent and sports an incredibly vibrant colour. Of course, if you happen to have a spare truffle lying around, it really adds to the dish.

8. Bake it in a quiche

Asparagus is always paired with eggs, so it makes perfect sense to bake it into a quiche. Tom Aikens adds chervil, an underrated herb which has a light aniseed flavour. A generous amount of Parma ham, rich mascarpone and a flaky homemade shortcrust pastry base elevates this dish into the quiche hall of fame.

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