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Everything There Is to Know About Asparagus

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  • Asparagus, Poached Egg and Bacon
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Asparagus, dubbed the Usain Bolt of the vegetable world – with spears that can grow up to 10cm in just one day. This vegetable has grown immensely in popularity in recent years, and we are now in the middle of the much anticipated (but sadly very short) British asparagus season.

To celebrate the stunning range of Wye Valley asparagus we now have available at Arthur David, we’ve pulled together everything you need to know about this delicious and versatile veg, with cooking methods, recipes, buying tips and much more.

Origins of Asparagus

Asparagus is a distant cousin of the humble onion, with a history that dates back over 2,000 years. This vegetable is believed to have originated in eastern Mediterranean countries, with traces of wild asparagus being found in Egypt and Africa that date back to similar times.

It is widely accepted that a French variation of the vegetable made its way over the Channel and was first cultivated in the UK in the seventieth century; this over time evolved into the asparagus that we know and love today.

It has been used throughout history for medicinal purposes as well as for general consumption, owing to its high vitamin content.

Methods of Cooking Asparagus

Asparagus really is versatile and can be cooked in just about anyway, remember to break off the bottom ends and wash well before cooking.

Boil – In a saucepan with a few inches of water, simmer the asparagus for 3 -5 minutes until bright green. This is one of the most popular methods of cooking asparagus.

Steam – Steaming is slightly quicker than boiling and is considered a healthier method. Steam until the asparagus turns bright green – this should take between 2 and 5 minutes depending on your preference.

Roast – Roasting your asparagus ensures maximum flavour is retained, roast at 200c on parchment paper for 5 – 10 minutes, drizzle with olive oil before cooking for best results.

Grill – Grilling asparagus adds a charred bite to the vegetable whilst retaining the soft juicy centre, toss the stalk in olive oil with salt and pepper and grill for 5 – 8 minutes.

BBQ – As above, BBQing your asparagus should take no longer than 8 minutes – be sure to choose thicker stemmed asparaguses to prevent any falling into the charcoal.

Different Types of Asparagus

Asparagus comes in three different colours; green, purple and white. Whilst green is the most common and popular colour in the UK, white and purple asparagus are now also more readily available.

Green – The green asparagus we know and love has the boldest flavour of the three colours, it’s grown above ground and in direct sunlight.

White – The ghost-like white colour of this type of asparagus is achieved by simply depriving asparagus of sunlight, this type of asparagus has a milder flavour and is preferred in many European countries. White asparagus is often more expensive due to the more laborious farming process.

Purple – Purple asparagus first came about in the Albenga region of Italy. Purple asparagus has a nuttier, fruitier taste due to its higher sugar content.

When Is the Best Time to Buy Asparagus?

British asparagus season runs from the end of April until June, however, it can be slightly delayed if the weather is colder. During this time you’ll be able to pick up asparagus from supermarkets, farm shops, fruit and veg markets and green groceries across the country. Outside of the season, asparagus can be imported from many other countries abroad, so it’s never in short supply.

During UK season, we supply Wye Valley asparagus which is considered to be some of the best in the UK. Following the season, we move over to Mexican asparagus, a slightly thinner variation which is just as versatile as its British counterpart.

Asparagus Recipes We Love

Asparagus, Poached Egg and Bacon

This recipe will be a welcome addition to your breakfast menu and can also be served as a light lunch dish. With just 4 ingredients that cook at similar times, you’ll find this recipe as simple as it is delicious:

  1. Place bacon slices under the grill or in frying pan. – (4-5 minutes)
  2. Add trimmed spears of asparagus to a salted pan of boiling water. – (3-5 minutes)
  3. Crack a large free range egg into lightly simmering water. – (4 minutes)
  4. Once every element is complete, construct on upon a toasted English muffin and season with salt and cracked black pepper.

Asparagus Burger

We recently wrote about asparagus as a pizza topping in our unusual pizza topping blog, so why not give it a go with your burgers as well? Combine with pulled pork and Monterey jack cheese, or as a topping for a classic beef burger. For the veggies out there, why not put on a show with delicious asparagus bean burgers:

  1. Preheat your oven and start cooking your bean burger (this will vary in time/temperature brand by brand).
  2. 10 minutes before your burgers are ready, pop your asparagus on the grill with a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. After 5 minutes, add sliced red onion, sliced aubergine and a handful of pumpkin seeds.
  4. Once all elements are cooked, bring together the burger with a sliced beef tomato on a seeded bun.

Beer Battered Asparagus

This unique recipe will give whitebait a run for its money, perfect as a bar snack or side order for main meals. To create this delicious snack:

  1. Mix together all-purpose flour, salt, pepper in a bowl.
  2. Slowly add chosen beer and whisk until smooth.
  3. Coat asparagus in the mixture and deep fat fry until golden and brown.
  4. Serve with tartar sauce.

Green and White Asparagus with Parma Ham and Brown Eggs

This delicious recipe was created by our in-house development chef, Steve Shore, it uses two types of Wye Valley asparagus and is a superb starter to add to any fine dining menu. You can read the full recipe here.

Asparagus Dip

This fresh and delicious recipe is a superb accompaniment to any meal and works great with chips and salad in a pitta bread. To create your asparagus dip simply combine the following ingredients in a food processor (based on 12 portions):

  1. 350g steamed asparagus (chopped).
  2. 1 peeled avocado.
  3. 6 peeled garlic cloves.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Juice of 2 lemons.
  6. Generous glug of olive oil – add until you meet desired consistency.

Famous Wye Valley Asparagus from Arthur David

We’re delighted to once again be holding stock of the famous Wye Valley asparagus this British asparagus season. If you’re looking for a trusted supplier of fresh produce and fine ingredients, we can help.

Give us a call today on 0330 333 4441 or use the live chat to discuss your individual requirements with one of our expert team today.

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