The British asparagus season is a highlight of the foodie calendar but the season is short, just eight weeks from April to June - so eat it while you can.
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Asparagus is available almost year-round but for the best, choose and cook asparagus during the season. We heartily refuse to buy the wax paper wrapped bundles as taut, rigid and lifeless as a three-day-old corpse jetted in from southern continents.
Choosing Asparagus: When buying asparagus, look for bright, green, evenly colored, firm and unwrinkled spears with tight buds - perfect. In the UK, we prefer thin green asparagus but I have wonderful memories of eating the fat white and purple, French spears.
Cooking Asparagus: Tie even-sized spears together near the base of the flower and the bottom of the stem with kitchen string and cook the spears upright with simply the stems in boiling salted water - this allows the delicate tips to steam.
An asparagus cooker is a useful addition to the kitchen, however, as asparagus can also be cooked flat in a large frying pan it is not a necessity.
It will take around 10 minutes for the spears to become tender and you can test by piercing the lowest part of the spear with a sharp knife. Carefully lift the bundle out - use two forks hooked under the strings - lay the asparagus onto a fresh, clean tea towel to drain.
02 of 05
When asparagus is fresh I like it simply slathered with salted, clarified butter - delicious. Sauces are wonderful and the French have endless lists of them, usually based on Hollandaise - the sauce that has reduced many competent cooks to tears. If you are not too strict about using machines Hollandaise can be achieved with near perfect results in a food processor.
Or for a really special way to serve asparagus, try it with cheese fondue.
03 of 05
The beauty of Asparagus is it can be a simple starter or a full-blown main course. This great vegetable can also be used in baking recipes. Here are a few suggestions for smaller, lighter plates for starters or a light lunch.
04 of 05
And for something a little heavier...Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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