Whilst whizzing around Fields Supervalu in Skibbereen to pick up a few supplies for the weekend I couldn’t resist picking up a bunch of local asparagus. Grown organically down the road in Ballydehob, Gra produce a beautiful early Irish Asparagus without chemicals. And yes, it certainly was more expensive, but there’s a very good reason for that. It tastes blooming gorgeous.
We spent a whole day in the garden starting work on the strange looking art installation that will be our outdoor kitchen no less. Expect much speculation in the townland! I finally put my very productive, but now going to seed Kale out of its misery and it was dispatched to the compost heap with due ceremony. The raised beds are ready for French beans, leeks, cavola nero and yet more kale. I have hopefully deterred whatever was nibbling my broad bean seedlings with sharp and spikey bamboo skewers.
By the time we came inside I had pizza dough proving, but wanted a decent but light starter while the pizzas were in the oven. I want the asparagus to speak for itself. I well remember my first taste of asparagus was in a very mediocre Italian restaurant in West London in the 1980s – it was par-boiled, rolled in ham and baked in thick cheesy béchamel sauce. The cheese and the ham were great, but I couldn’t actually taste much of the asparagus. So here is my simple asparagus which lets the asparagus sing. It’s a lovely starter but we also serve it as a side dish for a summer Sunday lunch.
Very Simple Early Asparagus
- 1 bunch of the earliest and best asparagus you can get your hands on.
- Good Olive Oil
- Juice of one lemon
- Parmesan or other hard, salty mature cheese.
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- A griddle pan (if you don’t have one, use a good heavy frying pan)
Very lightly oil your griddle pan and then heat it till it is just starting to smoke. Put your asparagus in the pan, placing against the line of the griddles for best effect. Depending on how thick your asparagus is, this should take about 2 – 3 minutes each side for some griddle marks to develop and for the asparagus to become tender. Serve on a large plate, dressed liberally with olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Grate or shave some flakes of parmesan over the dish and serve.
Growing asparagus always seemed a bit complicated and it takes three years before you actually get a crop. But now I’m not so sure. I’m looking about for a suitable sunny spot in the garden, and who knows maybe I’ll be picking my own in 2020 or 2021.
If you want to give it a try there’s some information about growing your own asparagus via this link.