Wednesday, 28 March 2007
Spears of Destiny
Along with the first signs of rhubarb, another vegetable that gets my heart rate going with excitement as it cracks the surface of our land is asparagus. I fell in love with asparagus some years back when I used to buy huge punnets of them from a farm on my way to work in Harrogate. Freshly cut that morning, dew still intact, it was difficult getting through the day knowing that they were sitting there just waiting to be eaten. Asparagus is a vegetable that begs to be eaten as soon as it is plucked so to speak, it's natural sweetness diminishing as each second away from it's home in the soil ticks by.
All I want to do with asparagus is cook it, drench it in butter and eat it as it is. In my world, it needs no accompaniment, the flavour of asparagus so unique and beautiful that it stands up on it's own. Of course it does go perfectly with poultry and fish. But as the window of asparagus in the U.K. is so short, I am more than happy just munching it on it's own. I sometimes make a soup with it but that is only when for some reason I have left them so long that a soup is the only thing that will do them any justice. A delicate and subtle vegetable, it needs little cooking and little to lift it's flavour.
An alternative to steaming and buttering is to roast it. I often roast my spears in a little balsamic and olive oil then fresh out of the oven, scattering with Parmesan or Pecorino. The salt of the cheese and the sweet of the vinegar make it a real treat. Roast a piece of fish alongside and you have a superb quick meal in 10 minutes. Asparagus. I salute you, the King of the British vegetables.
Roast Asparagus with Pecorino
1 punnet of asparagus, washed and prepared (easiest way to prepare asparagus is to each end in both hands and gently fold down. it will break at it's natural point, ditch the woody stalk)
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2tbs olive oil
Pecorino cheese (or Parmesan if you can't get hold of it)
1 - Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, GM4.
2 - In an oven dish, combine your asparagus, vinegar and olive oil with a little freshly ground pepper. Roast in the top half of your oven for 5-6 minutes (you may need a little longer if you have big thick asparagus)
3 - Pile onto plates and use a vegetable peeler to scatter with shavings of Pecorino or Parmesan.