Asparagus is the first vegetable of spring, and an absolute joy to eat. These quick little recipes are some of my favourite ways to prepare it. Make sure you try them all – they're equally good.
Nutritional Information (amount per serving)
Serves 4 as a side or starter Approx time: 20, 15, 10, 15 Difficulty: super easy
Steamed Asparagus & Quick Tomato Sauce:
Worcestershire Asparagus & Mushrooms On Toast:
Lemon Buttered Grilled Asparagus & Shaved Lancashire Cheese:
Minted Raw Asparagus Salad With Baby Spinach & Fresh Garden Peas:
MethodSteamed Asparagus and Quick Tomato Sauce:
Bring 2.5cm of water to the boil in a large pan. Meanwhile, pick the leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, slice 4 rashers of quality smoked streaky bacon into matchsticks, and halve 4 large ripe tomatoes. Grate the tomato halves cut side down on a fine grater, discarding the skins. Put 500g of washed asparagus (woody ends snapped off) into a colander and place over the pan of boiling water. Cover with a lid or tin foil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until just tender. Meanwhile, put a large frying pan on a high heat. Add a lug of olive oil and the sliced bacon. Once the bacon is crispy, add the rosemary leaves and cook for about 40 seconds, then remove both to a plate. Add a knob of butter to the same pan, then add the tomato, bring to the boil and season well. Move the asparagus to a serving platter, pour over the hot tomato sauce, scatter over the crispy bacon and rosemary and serve.
Worcestershire Asparagus and Mushrooms on Toast:
Peel and finely slice 4 cloves of garlic. Put a large frying pan on a high heat and add a good lug of olive oil. Whack 4 slices of nice bread into the toaster. Slice 2 handfuls of mushrooms (brushed clean) and 500g of washed asparagus (woody ends snapped off) into bite-sized chunks. Add them to the hot pan with the sliced garlic and toss and fry for around 4 minutes. Finely chop a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley and add most of it to the pan, along with 8 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and a knob or two of butter. Take the pan off the heat and shake and stir around for 30 seconds, or until the sauce has reduced down. Season to taste, then spoon over the slices of hot toast and top with the rest of the parsley.
Lemon Buttered Grilled Asparagus and Shaved Lancashire Cheese:
Put your griddle pan on a high heat. Place 500g of washed asparagus (woody ends snapped off) on the dry griddle pan. Turn and lightly char on both sides until just tender (roughly 2 to 3 minutes on each side), then toss in a large bowl with a knob of butter, a good squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Divide between plates or serve on a big platter. Toss 2 large handfuls of salad leaves with a little extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Use a speed-peeler to shave over a nice crumbly British cheese like Lancashire or Ticklemore, and serve.
Minted Raw Asparagus Salad with Baby Spinach and Fresh Garden Peas:
Put 2 large handfuls of washed baby spinach leaves and 2 large handfuls of freshly podded spring peas into a salad bowl. Finely slice a handful of fresh mint leaves and add to the bowl, then use a speed-peeler to shave 8 large spears of raw washed asparagus (woody ends snapped off) into ribbons. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon, and drizzle over three times as much extra virgin olive oil. Crumble over a small handful of soft goat's cheese, then toss and serve on a platter. The peas always fall to the bottom of the bowl, so pick them up, scatter them over the top and serve.