Brandishing Spears

British Asparagus Day falls on 23rd April (also Saint George's Day) and is a call for celebration in its own right. Whether our atypically wet Winter will diminish output remains to be seen, but much of it is grown in the 'dry East' and much of that in polytunnels, so hopefully it won’t be too scarce. The season officially ends on 21st June, so purists, like me, have just under 8 weeks of indulgence.

aspargus with mozzarella

Although a committed asparagus-phile, I'm a stickler for home raised produce, so consume lots of it in season and eschew imported asparagus when it isn't. I've enjoyed asparagus cooked many ways, but have now concluded that simple steaming is probably the best option. I don't like asparagus that is over (or under) cooked. My modus operandi these days is to bring a lidded shallow pan to the boil, give it a couple of minutes for fine stems (a little longer for fat ones) then drain it, refresh it under cool water, drain it again and serve it. It should be pliant, not soggy, and retain a little 'bite'.

Butter or olive oil and a squeeze of lemon are all the condiments I require, although mozzarella or poached eggs are both good accompaniments should you wish to elaborate. It also works well cooked then served cold as a salad ingredient. Sauvignon Blanc seems to be most sommeliers wine of choice in pairing partnerships, but I’m equally happy with unoaked Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay. A Chablis might be uplifting and shouldn’t overpower the verdant vivacity of the star of the show.

asparagus with pesto


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