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We are well into asparagus season so I thought I’d share our favorite recipe this year as so many of you got asparagus this week.   Like most of finer things in life simplicity is the way forward (I know I say this a lot but it is!!!).

A simple steaming, followed by a drizzle of olive oil or some butter, crushed Maldon…………… yum! Chop up your spears and toss them with pasta and Parmesan and a squirt of lemon for the ultimate in Italian refinement. Have them for breakfast week with eggs…….all they need is a creamy foil to really come alive.

I have a taste for the charred which I got years ago from a chef I worked with in Barcelona and I often cook my asparagus this way.

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Use a griddle pan getting it nice and hot. Add the asparagus turning them when they char. This takes a minute or two depending how hot the pan is. When you have your snazzy stripes, add a little oil and some crushed Maldon salt and shake the pan vigorously. Turn down the heat a bit and cover for a minute and allow the asparagus to steam a little and cook a bit more which should get them nicely al dente.

After this, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil and a spritz of lemon juice on them then some shavings of a nice hard cheese. Parmesan or Pecorino are obvious choices but a nicely matured Manchego also works really well. You don’t need loads just a little bit to add interest. As is it’s a picky starter to have while dinner is coming. This week’s recipe is what you do when you’ve got more people around and/or you want a proper starter. Serve the asparagus on a bed of Marc Michel’s amazing mixed leaves and add chopped walnuts and honey to the dressing.  Simple but really gorgeous and well worth doing to showcase one of summer’s most popular varieties………….

A salad of char-grilled asparagus with aged Manchego  on a bed of Wicklow leaves with a Walnut lemon dressing

You’ll need:

A bunch of asparagus

100gr mixed leaves – washed, dried and ready to go.

40gr aged Manchego (or Parmesan) shavings

For the dressing:

4 tablespoons olive oil

The juice of ½ lemon

A handful walnuts

A teaspoon of runny honey

Chop half the walnuts quite finely and the other half into small pieces and set aside for later.

Trim the tough ends of the asparagus – usually about an inch is more than enough. Heat a griddle pan. Add the asparagus and griddle until stripes appear then turn over and griddle on the other side. When both sides are done, add a little olive oil and a crushed Maldon to the pan and toss over the heat for a minute before turning down the heat and covering. Allow the asparagus to cook for another 2 minutes before removing them from the heat.

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Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil with the lemon juice, honey and the more finely chopped nuts and a pinch of crushed Maldon. Lay the asparagus on the salad leaves and scatter the shaving of cheese on top.

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Drizzle the dressing over this then add the remaining more coarsely chopped nuts. Serve with some crusty bread and sunshine 😉

Have a brilliant weekend,

Sarah

I don’t think we’ve ever done asparagus because they are just so pricey and it would mean a lot less of other stuff in your box. This week I managed to do some wheeling and dealing with one of our suppliers and got some at a (semi!) reasonable price. So, for the first time ever I give you asparagus!!

Like all veggies these guys are of course really good for you. Carol from Auggie’s creche told me that Patrick Holford says they are a superfood and with all their vitamins and minerals (too numerous to list) that does make sense. Generally though, nutrition isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about asparagus because it’s  their subtle flavour that gets people really excited. It  can only be described as grassy although I heard Denis Cotter talk recently about how in the first day after they’ve been picked they can taste of apples. When flavours are delicate, simplicity is always the way forward.  A knob of butter and a little salt is really perfection itself while a spritz of lemon or lime is beautiful too. Hollandaise makes a meal of a bowl of freshly steamed asparagus that you really should experience at least once. Cream is another  lovely foil and this week’s recipe is for a very simple gratin with cream and parmesan.  When you cook asparagus you want them firm but tender so don’t go too al dente or they’ll be tough. A brief steaming of about 2 minutes will suffice.If you want to jazz things up  you can sear them on a griddle pan after they come out of the steamer. But some would say this is gilding sorry, smoking the lily just a little too much. It does add a nice smokey flavour to things though. I won’t be doing that today though. It’s been ages since I’ve eaten asparagus so I’m going to keep things as simple as possible so its unique flavour can come through…………..

Asparagus Gratin with Parmesan and Cream.

You’ll need:

A bunch of asparagus

100ml vegetable stock

100ml white wine

200ml single cream

60gr Parmesan cheese grated

A tablespoon breadcrumbs

Simmer the stock and wine until they have reduced by half, add the cream and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the cream has thickened and reduced by about a third. Rinse the asparagus and cut the tougher ends off (about 5cm). Steam the asparagus spears for 2 minutes then drain and lay out on a heatproof dish. Pour over the cream and stock. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Toss the cheese and breadcrumbs together and top the asparagus with the mix. Put under a hot grill until golden. Eat immediately!!

Our spuds are a gorgeous purple colour and their flavour is even better. I’ve been parboiling them in their skins, draining then tossing them in olive oil and Maldon salt then roasting them for about 45 minutes and they are amazing!!!!!!

Have a wonderful Easter and enjoy all the veggies,

Sarah