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New season's asparagus (moved from UK/Ireland)

This morning, the village greengrocer had the first I've seen of new season asparagus - grown in Herefordshire. It seems very early but still very very welcome.

As every year, I'll buy it at every opportunity for the few weeks we have it. And I'll be happy to eat it traditionally - just boiled and served with butter & pepper. But, after a few weeks, I always get a bit jaded and look for something new to do with it. Any thoughts - particularly something that will fit with the British tradition - after all this is lamb and Jerseys time.

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  1. I'm sure the Team will switch this to Home Cooking. :-) Well, I hope our local pick your own soon has their asparagus. It does seem early. I usually cook mine with a dash of balsamic on top. I think it's best not to get too fancy with asparagus.

    1. Early - and not overly cheap. £2.50 for 250gr

      3 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        I still have trouble not converting prices into dollars. I'd never pay $5.00 for that much asparagus. And would I pay $1.50 for a small iceberg lettuce? Hmmm.

        1. re: zuriga1

          Just finished dinner - they were fab.

          1. re: Harters

            And just the start of the season!

      2. The balsamic thing? How do you cook the asparagus. I think that would be really nice griddled or roasted.

        My "special" is to put it in a dish, slosh some hollandaise on it; sprinkle with parmesan and stick it under the grill for a couple of minutes.

        Mrs H has already started talking about her asparagus and smoked salmon risotto.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          Right... if I use the balsamic, the asparagus is roasted. I have some thick, balsamic syrup right now and might try just a splash of that. Long ago, I found a recipe for asparagus gratin - put into the oven with bread crumbs, parmesan and pine nuts after cooking in a bit of butter. I'm not sure I'd like that one. Risotto is a very good way to use asparagus... nice instead of peas. I don't make hollandaise very often... but what a great invention!

          1. re: zuriga1

            Have to confess, I don't make the hollandaise but use the jarred stuff from Sainsbury (usually near the mustards). Real it ain't, but it's not bad.

            1. re: Harters

              It's OK... I used a mix in America. :-) I see we've found a new home for this thread. Am I smart or what??

              1. re: zuriga1

                Yep. You The Man (so to speak) :-0

                Got an nice email from a Mod saying he'd switched it. Guess he hadnt bought into the idea it was a primarily an ingredient availability thread, not a recipe one.


            2. re: zuriga1

              Zuriga, that is more or less how my (Italian) mother makes asparagus-omit the pine nuts and add onions. It is delicious and such a comfort food for me.

          2. Our asparagus isn't seasonal yet, but I'm making a Hopkinson recipe tonight for grilled (indoor) asparagus with slivers of parmesan on it. I also like a squeeze of lemon juice and lemon zest, along with salt and olive oil.

            1. I like to toss in a little olive oil and salt, then toss with sliced prosciutto and roast. You can wrap them in the prosciutto if you are up to it. (Not British, I'm sure, but tasty!)

              1. Soup! Peel the stalks and cut off tough ends, reserving. Cut off the tips, reserving. Simmer the trimmings and ends in water or light chicken stock, seasoned with salt and pepper, for about 10-12 minutes to extract all the flavor out of them. Strain them out and discard. Simmer the tips for about 2 minutes, or until tender-crisp; scoop out and reserve. Chop the stalks roughly and simmer in the stock until very tender. Puree stalks and liquid in a blender until very smooth. Check seasonings. Add the tips back in. You can add cream or half-and-half, but you don't really need it. It's just lovely slurpable asparagus essence.

                Liquid amounts depend on how much asparagus you have and how thick you want the resulting soup to be. Start a little shy on liquid; you can always add more.

                5 Replies
                1. re: nemo

                  jamie olivers soft boliled egg with asparagus, griidled pancetta, tomatoes & toast, its in his fourth book where he is dressed like a chef.


                  1.boil aspargus to taste & egg for 4 mins
                  2.griddle pancetta, tomatoes & then bread in pancetta fat.
                  3.squash griddled tomatoes onto bread top with asparagus, pancetta and egg. then open egg.

                  make sure everything is well seasoned. salt is good.

                  it is a stunning way to start any day, its also a top brunch. and easy and impressive if you happen to be entertaining.

                  havent seen english asparagus yet, i am still on spanish/italian organic asparagus form the unicorn (winner of best local shop OFM awards)

                    1. re: pecandanish

                      Good 'un, PD. I've had them with a poached egg in restaurant somewhere.

                      And, yes, I was pleased to see the Unicorn win the Observer's national award. Well deserved.

                      I was also pleased to see that other regional awards for our area went outside the Didsbury/Chorlton area. Every northwest place within walking distance of each other? I think not! I am convinced there's been "dodgy voting" there over the previous couple of years and have complained to the paper's editor both times.

                      1. re: Harters

                        i wonder if the fact that everyone in chorlton / didsbury reads the guardian and observer so they all vote local might have biased previous votes.

                        it became farcical when the metropolitan got an honourable mention for its sunday roast which is grade E canteen bully beef and soggy spuds. its rank.

                        surprised to see tampopo this year as have never rated it all all, much better is Mai Bai, 37 Princess st, opposite the town hall.

                        1. re: pecandanish

                          I tend to think that a clique of them got together on one of the Lapwing Lane trendy places and decided how to vote "en bloc". But, of course, it may just have been co-incidence ;-0

                          Agreed about the Met's food. Rank - generally. Although I showed a very significant profit on a meal there once. Saw a book, amongst those they use to decorate the place, that interested me & asked if I could buy. Manager gave it to me. Turned out it was rare & pretty valuable (I got nicely into three figures for it).

                          I like Tampopo though - Trafford Centre operation, not city centre - a beacon of light amongst a sea of eating despair.

                  1. Old Elizabeth David recipe--boil, dress with a zesty herbed mustard vinaigrette with a poached egg mixed in. Also good boiled, shocked & drained, top with grated parmesan (optional raw or cooked ham), run under broiler to brown, poached or fried egg on top is optional.

                    1. BBQ'd with some hoisin sauce
                      I also was going to say with a soft poached egg and some lemon zest
                      Marinate asparagus with Prawns in Salt, Ppper, chili flakes and lemon for 10 min. Wipe down the grill with oil, grill. Eat with fingers!
                      BLanch for about a minute, chop into fork size peices toss with raw spinach, craisins, and slivered toasted almonds in balsamic vinaigrette

                      1. Not British, but...

                        Cook some penne pasta, blanch thin spears of asparagus cut on the bias to the same size as the penne, and toss together in a white wine / cream reduction. It can be a starting point for more elaborite dishes, or a simple and delicious meal on its own.

                        1. Tomorrow we will steam some spears and wrap each in a slice (from Costco) of lox/smoked salmon. Read it hearabouts somewhere. How to turn an appetizer into a whole meal!

                          1. I made some type of panzanella salad w/asparagus last year... Germany is pretty crazy about its white asparagus, so each year, tons of recipes are published. For the salad you steam the asparagus, and toss it with some vinaigrette together with toasted bread and fresh shaved parmesan. It was nice, my man enjoyed having it a different way (he's American so not nearly as fanatic about it as I am)..... but I gotta admit, when it comes to my treasured white gold, I tend to stick to the basics:

                            steamed, served with drawn butter, fresh parsley, smoked ham & new potatoes.

                            If it's good quality asparagus, you don't want to overwhelm its natural flavor.

                            1. My favorite method of preparation is to toss it in some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake it in the oven - in a glass dish - in a 400 (200) oven, for about 15 minutes.

                              If I'm feeling inclined to dress it at all, I melt 2 tablespoons of butter on the stove top, then mix in 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Then I simply toss it in this once it's cooked.

                              1. A bit of a play on bread sauce works well (and would be a change if you serve it with spring chicken as well as with asparagus). Popular in Germany, but still works well with British lamb.

                                1. i love it roasted in the oven with hot chili oil, toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, lemon and lemon zest....I like it til the tips get crispy! The dog gets the ends simmered in chicken broth and mixed into her food.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: chelleyd01

                                    And thus obtains a truly memorable calling card to leave for her fellow canines...

                                  2. I like mine steamed, cut into several pieces on the bias, and tossed with DeCecco pasta (linguine or other), butter, and parmesan ... yum.