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HOW TO COOK ASPARAGUS
Contributor / 2009-04-24 13:28:23
The first asparagus is in the shops now. Whichever way you choose to cook asparagus - boiled, griddled (a combination of the two), steamed or oven roasted – don’t overdo it. Cook for just a few minutes, or 12-25 minutes if oven roasting at 180C/gas6.
The best spears are those that have only been a couple of hours out of the ground. They have an unbeatable, intense grassy flavour. look for vibrant green stems with a slight lustre. The tips should be intact and the stems smooth. Wrinkled and bendy stems are a sign of ageing.
When you break and trim asparagus, don't throw away the trimmings and ends - they make a great stock for soups and risottos.
Matching a wine with new-season asparagus is a tricky business. Look for wines that are young and fresh such as a 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. Go for French SB with steamed spears and a New World bottle with the slightly smokier flavour of griddled asparagus. For asparagus served with a hollandaise sauce or melted butter, a French Vin de pays d'Oc unoaked young Chardonnay will balance that richness.
FIVE THINGS TO DO WITH ASPARAGUS
Cook the asparagus in boiling, salted water for a couple of minutes until just tender. Drain and serve with a bowl of hollandaise sauce or a simple vinaigrette.
Toss the asparagus in oil and griddle, barbecue or grill, turning over once or twice, until just tender. Cool slightly then toss with cooked broad beans, peas, rocket leaves, mint and parsley. Season and dress with lemon juice and olive oil.
A touch of Italian
Lay asparagus spears on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast at 200C (gas 6) for 10min, turning occasionally. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve with Parmesan.
Steam asparagus for a couple of minutes until just cooked. Cool immediately in cold water, drain and dry, and wrap with slices of Parma ham.
A fresh pasta
Roast asparagus in a pan in the oven (as above). Cook tagliatelle or pappardelle, drain and toss with the asparagus, pesto and toasted pinenuts. Scatter with torn basil leaves.