Make the most of British asparagus by spearing a few bundles of this tasty, power-packed veggie. KATHARINE CAPOCCI has the details
BRITISH asparagus is in season from now until the end of June so what better time to spear yourself some bundles of this super-veggie.
North East restaurateur Terry Laybourne of the 21 Hospitality Group is a self-confessed fan of asparagus, which not only tastes divine but is one of nature’s power houses.
As well as being low in calories, asparagus contains high levels of vitamin A, folic acid and dietary fibre.
The true British asparagus season is tantalisingly brief, lasting for about eight weeks from late April to the end of June.
Imported asparagus is, of course, available all year round, but British asparagus is well worth the wait for its unbeatable flavour and freshness.
One of the simplest ways to prepare asparagus is to steam it for around 3-4 minutes until just tender and toss with a knob of butter, a little grated lemon zest (if you like citrus flavours) and a light sprinkle of sea salt.
The asparagus can be cut into 2in pieces or left whole for steaming. Then just pick up with your fingers and enjoy!
Another simple favourite is to submerge the asparagus in a large pan of boiling water for 3-5 minutes (depending on the thickness of the spears), while in the meantime cooking a soft boiled egg. Simply dunk the cooked spears in the runny egg yolk – bliss!
TV chef and cookbook author Tiffany Goodall, a former Newcastle University student, is an ambassador for British Asparagus.
Tiffany, 24, who lives in London, was inspired to write her first cookbook, From Pasta to Pancakes: the Ultimate Student Cookbook, based on her halcyon days in Newcastle while studying for her business degree.
Her cook-in sessions for fellow students at her digs in Jesmond were the inspiration for many recipes contained in her book. Her second book, The First Flat Cookbook, came out last year.
Tiffany has developed some tasty recipes exclusively for British Asparagus, one of which includes the following asparagus and pea risotto. She says: “I am such a fan of risottos because you usually find you have the core ingredients in your fridge or store cupboard.
Tiffany Goodall’s British Asparagus and Pea Risotto with Lemon and Crème Fraiche
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20-30 minutes
600ml chicken or vegetable stock
4 spring onions, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
½ green chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely
150g Arborio rice
½ glass of white wine
Half a bundle (approx 125g) British asparagus
100g British peas
2 tbsp (10g) grated parmesan
3 tbsp (85g) crème fraiche
Juice and zest of 1 small lemon
Handful of chives, chopped finely
Place the stock on a slow heat and keep it there while you are making your risotto. In a separate large pan melt your butter and then add the spring onions, garlic and chilli and sweat until soft for five minutes.
Then add the Arborio rice and mix round well so it absorbs all the flavours, before adding the white wine.
When the white wine has been absorbed, add the British asparagus spears and start adding ladleful by ladleful of stock, adding the next one when one has been absorbed.
After 15 minutes of continual stirring and adding the stock, taste and adjust the seasoning and then add the peas.
After a further five minutes turn the heat off, add the parmesan and crème fraiche, lemon zest and juice and let them melt in before dishing up, serving and finishing off with some chopped chives.