My thoughts on asparagus are much like my thoughts on strawberries - the less you interfere, the better. And I am quite content to eat it lightly steamed, with no other accompaniment. However, that doesn't make for much of a blog post. So here we are.
Asparagus (asparaguses? asparagi?) have started to show their tightly packed heads, just coming in to season at the beginning of September. While it is available almost year round in the major supermarkets, most of the time what you see on the shelves has been imported from Peru (where, by the way, I only saw asparagus once in my 3 weeks!).
You all know my thoughts on imported fruit & veg, but food miles aside, locally grown asparagus is miles (ha! mind the pun...) better than the imported product. Having come from only a few hundred kilometers away (instead of a few thousand), it is infinitely fresher, and hasn't been in cold storage for a week or more, giving it that slightly withered appearance and woody stems.
I am relishing in the beginning of the relatively short season (September to December/January), buying multiple bunches at a time and putting asparagus in everything. Salads, stir-frys, on pizza, roasted, you name it, we've done it.
Asparagus seems to work especially well with fish, eggs and cheese. I love it in salads, especially in place of beans in a Salade Nicoise (fish and eggs there!), but to be honest, it takes almost any salad up a couple of levels. Quiche or tart is another classic (again, eggs & cheese), as is anything with smoked salmon, and it also works quite well with pasta or risotto (I think it's the cheese...)
Some of my favourite uses, or recipes I've bookmarked are below;
If you're after more ideas, the September issue of delicious. magazine is drowning in asparagus recipes - I counted at least 5 on a quick flick through.
And if you still prefer the simplicity of lightly steamed, my only suggestion is to add hollandaise sauce. As a kid, asparagus in our house was almost always accompanied by hollandaise, and I was the chief saucier. However, there was no whisking over a bain-marie for me, I devoutly subscribe to Margaret Fulton's blender method, and it's done me well, as an 8 year old and a 28 year old!
Margaret Fulton's Blender Hollandaise Sauce
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbs water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- freshly ground white pepper
- 125g unsalted butter
Put the egg yolks, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper in a blender. Cover and blend at a high speed for a few seconds.
Melt the butter (microwave is fine - clearly cutting corners is allowed here).
While blending on high speed, add the hot melted butter very slowly to the egg yolk mixture and blend until creamy. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.
What are your thoughts on asparagus? Are you a lover or a hater?