Added by jamie | Mon 02 Feb 2009 @ 14:42
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 are my three favourite ways of cooking asparagus to serve as side dishes or starters.
For each of these recipes you will need to wash 2 big handfuls or 800g of whichever kind of asparagus you’re using, with their woody ends snipped off. Each recipe serves 4 people.
White asparagus with smashed mint and lemon butter
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.
Grilled asparagus with olive oil, lemon and Parmesan
This is a great combination. Parmesan, olive oil and lemon are wonderful with asparagus. Heat a large griddle pan and dry-griddle the asparagus spears on both sides until nicely marked. As soon as they\'re ready, put them on to four plates and dress with a good squeeze of lemon juice and three times as much olive oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, then take a block of Parmesan to the table and either grate or shave some over the asparagus wtih a speed peeler.
Steamed asparagus with French vinaigrette
Young asparagus is absolutely delicious when steamed. Put the asparagus spears into a collander over a large pan of fast-boiling water, place some tinfoil or a lid on top and allow them to steam until tender but still holding their shape. This should take 5 to 6 minutes but will depend on the size of your asparagus. Use common sense and try them as you go.
To make the vinaigrette, whisk up a heated teaspoon of French mustard, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of red or white wine vinegar in a little bowl. Add a small swig of white wine or water to loosen it if need be, then whisk again and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. If you can get hold of some chervil, it\'s particularly good with asparagus, but you can also use flat-leaf parsley, mint or basil. Divide the asparagus between four plates, drizzle generously with vinaigrette and sprinkle with the freshly chopped herbs. Job done – delicious!
This is from Jamie at Home