If there is one vegetable that signifies spring, its asparagus. Although the season now spreads from early winter to mid-summer, it is still at its best through spring.
Try to buy loose asparagus spears rather than small bunches. The bunches can often be squashed together with the asparagus suffering from bruising and breakage. Choose spears of an even thickness so that they will cook at the same time. Most commonly you will see green asparagus, though white and purple asparagus can be found in the height of the season.
Store asparagus in a cool spot, the crisper section in the refrigerator is the best place. Best used as soon as possible, asparagus will keep well for 2–3 days.
To prepare asparagus there is very little required. The ends of asparagus can be tough and stringy. Rather than taking potluck and chopping the ends off, hold one end in each hand and snap. The asparagus spear will determine where the good bit begins and ends. If preferred, trim off the bottom 5 cm or so with a knife.
To enjoy freshly cooked asparagus you need only to cook spears in boiling water for 3-4 minutes depending on the thickness of the stems. The simply toss with a little freshly ground black pepper, lime juice and extra virgin olive oil. Hollandaise sauce is another classic accompaniment for asparagus. Its also wonderful when added to a creamy pasta sauce with smoked chicken and artichokes.
Asparagus is also excellent cooked on a grill or barbecue for 4-5 minutes, then topped with a little crumbled goats’ cheese and a handful of toasted pine nuts for a beautiful side dish. Another great idea to try is to wrap prosciutto around the stem of the asparagus before grilling or barbecuing for 5-6 minutes.
Also in season...
Keep an eye out for...
Herbs: basil, chives, garlic, ginger, mint, oregano, thyme
Seafood: flathead, prawns, yabbies, King George whiting
Cheese: fromage frais
Content provided by Allan Campion and Michele Curtis www.campionandcurtis.com.