Make the most of this vegetable’s relatively short season with these versatile recipes
A squeeze of lemon, a spoon of melted butter and a pinch of black pepper is surely the fastest way to satiate a British asparagus craving when the season finally arrives. However, once you’ve scratched that itch, you’ll be glad to know that there are a great many more ways to make this slender green veg sing. From light, zesty salads to more substantial tarts let these recipes help you decide where to point those stems.
One of asparagus’ natural bedfellows is the egg, as this recipe illustrates. Keep it strictly British with broad beans and mint, or add some colour and fire by sprinkling with chilli flakes before cooking.
Italian flavours offset asparagus just as well as English ones, and this tart proves it. For a meaty version add some roughly torn prosciutto before it goes in the oven; simply arrange on top so that flecks of colour show in the finished dish.
Any other cheese would work well in this tart too. For a different experience altogether try the same quantity of goat's cheese – half hard, half soft – and sprinkle some lemon thyme leaves on top. If you’re sticking to Stilton, add a handful of toasted walnuts to serve.
For something even more LA, forgo the cooking altogether (step 2). Raw asparagus and raw broccoli will need to be sliced thin, but will certainly add to the crunch factor.
It isn’t terribly patriotic, but a South American grain like quinoa would make a great alternative to potato in this salad.
Give the asparagus some company in this dish by adding in a handful of peas, watercress and blanched green beans. As an alternative, brown risotto rice makes for a nuttier end result, but you need to be aware that it may take a little more liquid and a little longer to cook.
For even more charred flavours in this dish, throw the asparagus spears into the griddle pan with the halloumi. Make sure you oil each one first and give them a head start. For a gluten free alternative, serve this with polenta cakes instead of pitta.
7 more ways to make asparagus sing
1. Wrap it
Steam it first then wrap it in Parma ham and place it under the grill. If you feel so inclined, you could slip a slither of Parmesan next to the asparagus before wrapping. It’s ready when the ham crisps up at the edges. Drizzle with a little olive oil, black pepper and some lemon curls, and serve as a canapé or snack.
2. Dip it
Let asparagus tips be the soldiers to your dippy egg. A nifty gluten-free solution to toast, this would also be well received as a starter.
3. Sprinkle it
Sprinkle steamed asparagus with chorizo crumbs. Slice the chorizo into ½ cm cubes and fry at a high heat until crispy. Sprinkle the asparagus and drizzle the red oil on top.
4. Smother it
A lovingly homemade batch of hollandaise is made even better when eaten with asparagus. Dip the veg straight in, or spoon it over for a plated version. For a quick and easy alternative, add lots of lemon zest and black pepper to shop bought mayo.
5. Blend it
Make a chilled soup. Steam it, and then blitz it with lemon and yoghurt. Or for something more substantial, make a Vichyssoise - a thick soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. Add asparagus when you add the leeks.
6. Juice it
Add it to a green juice. It would sit well alongside kale, cucumber and lots of apples to sweeten things up.
7. Leave it
It’s excellent cooked, we’ve established that. It’s also tasty raw. Thinly slice it on an acute angle and toss it with other thinly sliced raw veg for a light and bright dish.