What to eat in May and June- Asparagus of course

Asparagus is one of our favourite UK seasonal vegetables and we greet the first local spears in the grocer’s shops with joy each May. We love to eat as much as we can until mid-June when it disappears from our shelves.

These days it doesn’t disappear though as you can find imported asparagus on supermarket shelves nearly all year round. Please don’t buy this out of season asparagus. It has come from Peru or Mexico and has a high carbon footprint.    This is because it has to be air freighted as asparagus loses flavour and texture after it has been cut and of course, South and Central America are many miles away. Peruvian asparagus is also grown in irrigated beds causing severe water shortages in a very dry region.

Uk locally grown asparagus has a 97% lower carbon footprint than Peruvian asparagus and is much tastier too so always check where your veg has come from. The pictured veg are from a smallholding near Appleton, York and sold by Food Circle

Even when buying local asparagus. It’s not the cheapest of veg as it has to be hand-picked daily. As it’s with us for only a few short weeks (late April to late June) we are happy to pay for this short seasonal treat. We also tend to wait till May to enjoy it too when the price has dropped a little.

Asparagus is best eaten as fresh as you can before it converts more of its sugars to starch and becomes woody. Look for nice firm spears  and storing it upright in a little water in the fridge will help keep it fresher for longer

We enjoy asparagus blanched and pan-fried with garlic and a little sea salt or just steamed and served with poached eggs or with a Spanish potato omelette (tortilla) We also like it in salads like the quinoa salad we cooked for one of our May Facebook Cook-along sessions 

Our absolute favourite asparagus recipe is one we discovered a couple of years ago for asparagus and new potatoes in a smoked almond sauce. (Original recipe by  Nicholas Balfe, head chef at Salon, Brixton)

We cooked this for our first June Cook-Along on Facebook so have a look at our tutorial or just follow the recipe below. Happy Cooking!

We  can deliver cooking tutorials via Zoom so do contact us if you would like your own seasonal cooking tutorial

Asparagus with smoked almond sauce,

 wild garlic and new potatoes

Ingredients: (Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course)

400g new potatoes, boiled until tender in salted water

8 spears of asparagus, woody end removed

A handful of wild garlic leaves

A handful  of spring herbs, such as parsley, chives pea shoots, etc

50ml olive oil

30ml sherry vinegar

½ tsp sea salt

50g chopped smoked almonds and edible flowers ( wild garlic or chives) to decorate

For the almond sauce

100g smoked almonds

1 clove garlic, chopped

100ml cold water

200ml neutral oil, eg, vegetable/rapeseed oil

tablespoon sherry vinegar

1/2 tsp fine salt

Utensils:

Food processor

saucepan

griddle pan  or grill

Cooking instructions:

First, make the almond sauce.

Put the almonds and garlic into a food processor. Turn the power on at a low speed and add half the water and blend into a thick paste. Increase the speed and gradually add the oil and the remainder of the water alternately so you end up with a smooth, glossy sauce.

Season with a dash of sherry vinegar and a pinch of fine salt

Preheat the griddle pan or grill to a high heat. Carefully grill the Jersey Royals until they are nicely coloured and have picked up some smokey flavour. Set aside in a warm place.

Next, grill the asparagus so it’s evenly coloured and cooked to your liking. Slice each asparagus spear in half, either lengthways down the middle or across the stem to make lots of different shapes and sizes.

Finely chop the wild garlic leaves, and toss together with any other herbs and leaves you’re using. Toss together with the warm asparagus and Jersey Royals, dressing with olive oil, sherry vinegar and sea salt as you go.

Place some of the almond sauce on the base of the plate, and arrange the salad on top. Top with the chopped almonds and a sprinkling of wild garlic flowers or chive flowers.