© David Loftus
white asparagus with smashed mint and lemon butter
There are many different types of asparagus available these days – thick ones, thin ones, baby, green, wild, white and even absolutely huge ones! Apart from their visual appeal, the real difference between them is their taste. They range from firm and nutty to soft and silky. Here’s one of my favourite ways of cooking asparagus to serve as a side dish or starter.
You will need to wash 2 big handfuls or 800g of whichever kind of asparagus you’re using, with their woody ends snipped off.
Using a speed peeler, peel off the outer layer of the asparagus spears, from 5cm below the tip down to the bottom, then tie them in a bundle with a piece of string. Get your deepest saucepan with a lid – the asparagus should be able to stand up inside the pan. If they can't, slice the ends off to make them fit. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and stand the asparagus upright in it. Throw in any sliced-off ends, boil for 5 minutes with the lid on, then turn off the heat. Let the asparagus sit in the pan for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, smash up 2 small handfuls of mint leaves in a pestle and mortar until you have a pulp, and gently melt 100g of butter with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a frying pan. Add the mint pulp and the juice of 1 large lemon. Stir together and, when it's slowly bubbling, remove from the heat. To test if the asparagus is cooked, take a spear out, slice a bit off and try it. If it's soft, but still holding its shape, they're done, so drain them in a colander. To serve, pour the mint and lemon butter over the asparagus and sprinkle with a few extra mint leaves.
• from Jamie at Home