Cooking with Asparagus

Whether it’s green, white (which is grown under earth and thus deprived sunshine and chlorophyll) or purple (which with prolonged cooking will actually turn green), the sweet, earthy flavour of asparagus marries beautifully with scallops, is divine wrapped in prosciutto and barbecued and makes an indulgent breakfast served with a poached egg and hollandaise.

Look for asparagus with tight, well-formed heads and avoid any that have slimy tips. Check the base of the stems to make sure they are not split or wrinkled. Be aware of the miles this vegetable has travelled: the closer to home and fresher, the better.

Snap off the woody end of the asparagus by holding the spear in the middle and bend the bottom until it finds its natural snapping point. Discard the woody ends, or use them in a stock. Place green and purple asparagus in boiling water for 2 - 5 minutes, or until a knife passes through the thickest spot without resistance (white spears tend to be a little thicker and may need a little longer). The spears should maintain their vibrant colour and not droop. Do not refresh in cold water (it will affect the flavour), simply drain on a clean tea-towel.

Wrap the bottoms of the asparagus in damp paper towel and store asparagus in a vegetable bag in the crisper for a couple of days only.

Asparagus loves – lemon, prosciutto, parmesan, eggs, chicken, butter, olive oil, salt, fish, butter, hollandaise, scallops, prawns

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