ASPARAGUS

Asparagus Recipes

Asparagus

It appears it was the Romans who first started to cultivate asparagus more than 2000 years ago. It was so popular they dried it for winter use, it is also said that the Romans froze it by transporting it in chariots to the Alps. The earliest first century cookbook, De re coquinaria and attributed to Apicius, a gastronome of the first century, contains a recipe for cooking asparagus.

The Romans considered asparagus to have medicinal qualities which studies have indeed shown to be true.


Vitamin K.

Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K. 180g of asparagus provides more than just over what is considered the best daily allowance.

Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone health, it is also a key player in heart health.


Folate.

Asparagus contains a significant amount of folate. Folate helps form red blood cells and produce DNA which carries genetic information. Folate can decrease the risk of neural-tube defects in fetuses.


Pre-biotic.

Asparagus is high in inulin which is a good source of food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut, the greater the number of beneficial bacteria the better the absorption of nutrients through the gut wall.


Glutathione.

Asparagus is full of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It is a good source of the anti-oxidant glutathione which is particularly potent in breaking down free radicals it can also help to protect your skin from sun damage and pollution.


Natural diuretic.

Asparagus promotes the production of urine. This increases the excretion of water from the body, in particular ridding the body of excess salt and fluid. It’s also helpful for people who have high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases.


After eating asparagus, some people report their urine gives off a strange odor. Once thought to be a sign of defective metabolism we now know its actually harmless and produced from the asparagus sulfur compounds that your body did not absorb.


There are many ways to cook and serve asparagus and here are a few of my favourite recipes, though I have to say I never tire of it lightly steamed with a little olive oil, salt & black pepper.


Roast asparagus, pea & new potato salad

Dandelion, radish & asparagus salad

Quinoa with asparagus & spring onions

Asparagus soup


How to prepare asparagus

The bottom tips of asparagus are extremely tough, snap them off with your fingers and you will be left with the tender stalk. Give the asparagus a light wash if there is grit or sand.


Roast asparagus, pea & new potato salad

serves 4

500g small new potatoes, washed.

olive oil

salt flakes

black pepper

500g prepared asparagus

250g of podded peas

4 handfuls of mixed salad leaves

50g hard cheese

Dressing

zest & juice 1 medium lemon

small handful tarragon or chervil leaves chopped

5 tablespoons olive oil

good pinch salt & twist of black pepper


Preheated oven 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6


Toss the new potatoes in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Place in an oven proof dish with a lid, pop in the oven and cook until tender around 35-40 minutes.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and set aside. When the potatoes are done remove from the oven and place in a bowl, pour over half the dressing and leave to cool.

Lightly oil a baking tray and sprinkle with salt flakes. Arrange the asparagus on top of the salt, sprinkle with a little more oil and roast for 5 minutes, remove and cool.

Blanch the peas in boiling water for 30 seconds, strain, refresh in cold water, strain.

Toss the salad leaves in the remaining dressing and divide between 4 plates. Place the potatoes, asparagus and peas on top of the leaves then using a vegetable peeler scrape curls of cheese on top and serve.


Dandelion, radish & asparagus salad

serves 2

12 asparagus spears

16 dandelion leaves

2 handfuls salad leaves

12 radish cut in half

bunch of chervil roughly chopped

handful sprouted sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons hemp oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

salt and black pepper


Plunge the asparagus into boiling water for 1 minute, drain* and refresh with cold water

In a large bowl whisk together the hemp oil & lemon juice, season well with salt and pepper.

Add the dandelion leaves, salad leaves, asparagus, radish, sunflower seeds and chervil to the bowl and very gently mix together.

*Drain through a sieve over a bowl to catch the water which you can save as a base for soup.

Quinoa with asparagus & spring onions.

serves 2

100g quinoa
1 chilli

1 garlic clove

200g bundle of asparagus
6 spring onions
1 tbsp olive oil
a handful of coriander

salt & black pepper

1 lime


Cook the quinoa with a pinch of salt as per the instructions on the packet

(generally cook the quinoa in 200 ml water for 15 mins or until all the water has absorbed)

Finely chop the garlic & chilli

Prepare the asparagus and cut at an angle into fine slices

Prepare the spring onions and slice in a similar fashion.

Add the oil to a frying pan along with a tablespoon water and gently cook the garlic & chilli for 1 minute, add the asparagus and spring onions and cook for a further 2 minutes. Tip in the quinoa, heat through, stir in the coriander, season with salt & pepper and finis with a little lime zest & juice


Asparagus soup

serves 4 -6

1k prepared asparagus

1 tblsp olive oil

1 tblsp butter

1 leek, trimmed and finely sliced

1 floury potato, scrubbed or peeled and cubed

1l vegetable stock


Cut the tips off the asparagus about 1½" from the top. slice the stalks into ½" pieces. Heat the olive oil and the butter in a large pan, add the leek and potato and gently cook for 5 minutes, add the sliced stalks, pour over the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer covered for about 15 minutes.

Blanch the reserved spears in boiling water for 1½ minutes and drain. Remove the soup from the heat, cool a little then process to a puree in a food processor. Return the soup to the pan add the spears, heat through and serve.


Wild asparagus ( Asparagus racemosus), is a different species of asparagus than cultivated asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) Wild asparagus has a long history of use in plant medicines, including Ayurvedic medicine, which was originally developed in India over 5,000 years ago.


Miles Irving notes in his rather wonderful The forager handbook that wild garlic is listed as endangered and should not be harvested. On Hoedic, an island off Brittany, it is plentiful and harvested by the local people

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