Spears of delight
Mary Kemp’s delicious ideas for the wonderful Norfolk asparagus
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