ONE PERFECT INGREDIENT – THE COMPETITION is still on!
Write about your favourite ingredient, post a recipe and enter the competition to win Marcus Wareing’s fabulous new book
Finally spring! Still mostly only in the calendar, but I’m hopeful! Soon, very soon, (one of) my favourite ingredient comes in season here in Britain – ASPARAGUS! In anticipation of that, I will share three asparagus recipes, as an entry to my event One Perfect Ingredient. Two of these are everyday Croatian recipes, and one is my own creation. This latter one was lurking in my folders since last June, which is when these photos were taken. (I really don’t know why it took me so long to post them!)
In Croatia, wild asparagus is already in season, so I’ve had some last week when I was visiting my family in Dalmatia. I simply adore wild asparagus (or sparoga – shparogha in Croatian)! They’re thinner than regular asparagus, but still very tender and succulent, with a woody, intense flavour. Wild asparagus are not cheap, but if you get a chance, do try them, because they’re well worth it! Even better, pick some yourself if you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity!
Native to Eastern Mediterranean, from where it spread around the world, asparagus plant is very thorny, with tiny, needle-like leaves. The edible part of the plant are it’s shoots.
According to Wikipedia, asparagus has been used from very early times as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavour and diuretic properties. Interestingly, there is a recipe for cooking asparagus in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius’s third century AD De re coquinaria, Book III.
Storage and preparation
Asparagus is very perishable, so try not to keep it for too long. To prepare the shoots of wild asparagus, gently bend the shoot and then break it where it’s hard, and unbending. This part is very woody, and difficult to eat, but can be used to make asparagus stock.
How to cook asparagus
Asparagus cooks very quickly, in a few minutes really. It’s very versatile and can be steamed, boiled, stir-fried or fried or grilled until tender. Regular asparagus can even be grilled. I like it slightly al dente!
Recipes will be entered as separate posts over the next few days: