The British asparagus season runs from May until the end of June – just a handful of weeks to enjoy this most seasonal of crops. Labour-intensive to grow, asparagus can reach up to 10cm in just one day, which demands a huge amount of energy. Not surprisingly, the plants can’t keep going for any great length of time. Each spear is harvested by hand when it reaches just the right height. A cool, crisp Spring, not too wet, not too dry means that we should be on course for a great crop, this year. Whilst French asparagus is purple, and Spanish and much Dutch asparagus are white, British asparagus is proudly green and considered one of the delicacies of the vegetable world with a distinct, intense savoury flavour.
When the season is in full swing, you can pick up British Asparagus in all major supermarkets. It is packed full of goodness, so not only are you getting a delicious vegetable, but a healthy one too! Eating asparagus promotes healthy bacteria in the large intestine and can help reduce bloating. It contains vitamin K and vitamin C essential for healthy blood clotting and to boost your immune system, and is believed to help detoxify the body, too (great for a hangover).
British asparagus is also wonderfully versatile. Blanched, roasted, griddled or raw – each way brings out the vibrant emerald colour and its unique flavour. The earliest asparagus shoots are called ‘sprue’. They’re thinner and usually tender all the way through. The later and thicker shoots can have very woody. These need to be removed by simply bending each stalk with both hands until it snaps – the break will happen where the woody part meets the tender. Sometimes what needs to be discarded can be quite substantial, but don’t let it go to waste, you can use these ends to make a stock for soups and stews.
I’ve had a play with this glorious ingredient and created 3 easy peasy recipes for you to try at home…
Griddled Asparagus pancakes with smoked salmon and crème fraiche, serve 4-8
- 230g British Asparagus
- 150g plain flour
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 284ml pot of buttermilk
- 2 Clarence Court large free range eggs
- 250ml whole milk
- a pinch of smoked paprika
- 30g manchego cheese, finely grated
- smoked salmon, to serve
- crème fraiche, to serve
Griddle your asparagus spears with a small drizzle of oil until they start to char. Set aside.
In a bowl mix your plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, buttermilk, Clarence Court eggs, smoked paprika and manchego to form a batter. Add your whole milk gradually until your batter is the thickness of a heavy double cream.
Line up 5 griddled asparagus spears in a greased, flat frying pan on a low-medium heat and pour 4 large tablespoons of batter over the top. Your pancakes won’t be perfect circles, instead the batter will haphazardly creep in and around the spears and lock them in place. Give it a few minutes until the surface of the batter is no longer wet and then flip it over.
Once both sides are golden, plate them up with some generous lashings of crème fraiche and scrumptious smoked salmon.
Asparagus Fries with a spicy mayonnaise, serves 4
For the fries…
- 230g British Asparagus
- 100g plain flour
- a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 150g panko breadcrumbs
- 50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
For the mayonnaise…
- 100g mayonnaise
- 100g sour cream
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime
- 1 chipotle chilli, rehydrated and finally chopped
Line up 3 bowls. In the first bowl, mix together your flour and cayenne pepper and season with salt. In the second bowl, crack and whisk your Clarence Court eggs. In the final bowl, mix together your panko breadcrumbs, parmesan and sesame seeds. We are going to pane our asparagus spears by first rolling them in the flour, then dipping them in the egg (shaking off any excess) and finally pressing them into our panko mix.
Once you have coated each spear, pour a generous lashing of oil into a frying pan on a medium to high heat and add your asparagus to the pan. Rotate them as each side starts to turn gorgeously golden. Remove from the heat onto kitchen roll to soak up any excess oil.
In a bowl, mix together your mayo, sour cream, lime and rehydrated chipotle chili to create a fresh and fiery side dip.
Raw asparagus salad, serves 4
For the salad…
- 100g British Asparagus, shaved ribbons
- a handful of rocket
- 50g parmesan, shaved
- 250g cooked quinoa
- ½ cucumber, skinned and seeds removed then chopping into chunks
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 bunch fresh dill, roughly chopped
For the dressing…
- 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- salt and pepper, for seasoning
To create the salad, mix together all your ingredients (prepared as suggested). Use a vegetable peeler to create long, thin ribbons with your asparagus! In a separate bowl, whisk together your dressing ingredients and pour over your salad when you’re ready to serve. Toss through to make sure it’s all evenly coated and enjoy!
This blog post contains paid for advertorial in partnership with British Asparagus.