Hooray! Asparagus is in season!
Make the most of this short window of opportunity to eat asparagus at its best by trying out one of the Secrett Kitchen’s top ways to serve this delicious seasonal vegetable!
Asparagus season is my favourite time of the food calendar, and we are in the middle of it now! Yes, you can buy asparagus year-round in the supermarket, but if you buy out of season, it will have travelled for days, losing all of its flavour and clocking up 1000’s of food miles in the process of reaching your dinner table.
Asparagus is a vegetable that benefits from being served as soon after it has been harvested as possible. The reason for this is that its sugars start to convert to starch once it has been cut, and therefore its flavour suffers as a result of not eating it quickly enough. This is why you must, must, must ONLY eat asparagus in season, to ensure that it has not spent days being transported halfway across the world! The asparagus season is short, starting in May and finishing in June in Britain and France, so make the most of it now!
Growing up, I was spoilt rotten during the asparagus season, as Secretts, my family’s farm in Surrey, is one of the top growers of quality British asparagus. I was lucky enough to be able to go into the field and pick the tender asparagus spears myself half an hour before cooking them, and some years, I probably ate asparagus every day from the start of the season to the end. Nowadays, having moved abroad to France, I don’t get to enjoy the same perks of an unlimited supply of Secretts asparagus as I did a few years ago. Delivery time to France makes it hard for me to even benefit from the asparagus by post service they offer, which I used to do when I was away at university and unable to pick it myself. Luckily for me though, it is in season here in France as well, so I can stock up in the local markets.
However, for those of you who DO live in the UK, but aren’t near enough to Surrey to visit Secretts for PYO asparagus, you can order it online to be delivered to you the morning after it is picked, in a lovely giftbox. The delicious, fresh asparagus is a superb idea for a unique, well-appreciated gift.
The season is short, so don’t miss out!
The Secrett Kitchen’s top 10 things to do with asparagus
To prepare asparagus, bend the lower end of each stem until it snaps, which will be the point where it begins to toughen. Discard the tough ends.
1. Classic and simple
Asparagus is delicious served simply like this. Using a pan of shallow gently boiling water, rest the flowering tips on the edge whilst letting the thicker stems cook for a couple of minutes. Then, submerge the whole spear in the water and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes until the thicker part is tender. Serve with a healthy dose of butter, salt and pepper.
2. Steamed in a foil pouch with wine and tarragon
Wrap the spears in foil with some butter, some tarragon sprigs and a splash of wine, and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus.
3. As a thin, creamy soup
Sauté a large onion in some butter. When it’s tender, add the chopped thicker bits of a bunch of asparagus and a tablespoon of good stock, and cook in the butter for another few minutes. Then add all the rest of the asparagus, more stock and let cook until the thick parts of the vegetable are tender. Season well with salt, pepper, a little tabasco and some herbes de provence, and then blitz until all the bits have gone. Add a good dollop of creme fraiche or cream, and serve with a warm, crusty loaf.
4. With pancetta and parmesan
Boil a bundle of asparagus until only just tender. Once drained, lay in a shallow baking dish and preheat the oven. Pan fry some pancetta in butter until the fat is golden. Tip the cooked pancetta and the butter over the asparagus. Sprinkle with a little grated parmesan, then bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
5. With a poached egg, on top of a good salad
On top of a bed of dressed green salad, serve some parma ham, a poached egg, and some tender asparagus spears.
6. In a spring vegetable risotto
Make a risotto with onion, stock and Arborio rice, add chopped asparagus, and other green vegetables such as broad beans, green beans or spinach. Season well and finish off with some grated parmesan stirred through.
7. Dunked in home-made Hollandaise sauce
Steam some asparagus spears, and then serve with a delicious Hollandaise sauce to dunk them into.
8. Barbecued in butter and lemon
Wrap the asparagus spears in a foil parcel, with some butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and throw them on the BBQ for 15-20 minutes.
9. With pasta, mushrooms and cream
Sauté the mushrooms and asparagus in some butter, and then mix into some fusilli pasta with a small tub of creme fraiche. Season well and serve with parmesan.
10. Served cold with French vinaigrette
Steam the asparagus, allow to cool, and serve coated in a mustardy French vinaigrette