It’s the asparagus season here in the UK. I love asparagus, though nothing I can buy in the shops or farmers market is a patch on the stuff we grew in the vegetable garden when I was a kid. Where did the the intensity of flavour come from? Perhaps it was the soil (I was brought up in Norfolk, where the soil is naturally rich and peaty). Maybe it was the magic created by our gardener – I can remember we had some kind of rotation system for the asparagus beds, the crowns were planted and left for years before we were allowed to harvest at all and there was a very very strict ‘picking’ period. Or perhaps the fact that we picked what we needed to cook, took it into the kitchen, washed it and put it straight into a pan of boiling water. I used to be fascinated by the rows of asparagus crowns with their beautiful fine fern-leaves. And, as a vegetable it just seemed a lot more exotic than frozen peas!
We never had anything other than butter with our asparagus. But, now I rather like a simple lunch of blanched asparagus with parma ham or proscuttio crudo and butter. Just a little black pepper to season.
I’ve experimented a bit with roasting my asparagus and using it in risotto, but for me the unique flavour of the vegetable doesn’t NEED roasting or the addition of olive oil, and cooking in a risotto seems a bit of a waste for proper English asparagus (although it’s something I do if I find a marked down bunch in the supermarket that is past sell-bye date).
For me, asparagus heralds the start of summer like nothing else. test