Spears of de­light

Mary Kemp’s de­li­cious ideas for the won­der­ful Norfolk as­para­gus

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - Mary Kemp

THERE ARE some of our lo­cally grown in­gre­di­ents that are so su­pe­rior to any­thing grown across the world, and as­para­gus is one. Best as fresh as pos­si­ble, and to my mind, only eaten dur­ing the Bri­tish sea­son.

Find­ing im­ported as­para­gus on a lo­cal menu out of sea­son is so frus­trat­ing and dis­ap­point­ing. Cel­e­brate and serve these won­der­ful green spears of flavour and good­ness dur­ing their short sea­son.

They are with­out ar­gu­ment the per­fect con­ve­nience food, steamed or boiled in salted wa­ter un­til ten­der and served with melted but­ter or poached egg only tak­ing a few min­utes to pre­pare and cook, and de­li­cious in so many recipes.

When writ­ing and pre­par­ing sea­sonal recipes, there is al­ways a race to meet dead­lines and co­in­cide with the start of a new sea­son. I was de­lighted to col­lect two boxes of early as­para­gus from the Al­lens at Port­wood Farm, Great Elling­ham. Grown un­der sheets of plas­tic, you will see con­tin­u­ous rows of arched cloches, re­flect­ing the spring sun, pro­tect­ing this early crop, giv­ing a few ex­tra weeks to this pre­cious sea­son.

As well as be­ing de­li­cious, as­para­gus is low in calo­ries, choles­terol and sodium. It also con­tains high lev­els of vi­ta­min A (an an­tiox­i­dant vi­ta­min) folic acid and di­etary fi­bre, which are be­lieved to play an im­por­tant role in the fight against cancer. The high lev­els of vi­ta­min C and E are great for skin, nail and hair health too, plus much more – def­i­nitely a su­per­food.

Store fresh as­para­gus in the fridge, if you are keep­ing it for a few days, stand it in a jug or bowl with the stems in 1cm of wa­ter. As well as steam­ing or boil­ing, try roast­ing and bar­be­cu­ing it. Toss blanched spears on a salad, or in a stir fry.

But the best tip of all I can give you is to en­joy this in­cred­i­ble har­vest, and feast while you can, the sea­son fin­ishes on June 21.

Below: Port­wood as­para­gus

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