Don't know about you, but I say at the top of my voice: 'Thank God Asparagus Season Is Back!'
Alas it's only here for the best of two months, so from late April to mid June, our days are to be spent experimenting with this goodly green! There is nothing simpler or more delicious to eat than a plate of four or five or, go on, six, fresh, al dente steamed asparagus spears drizzled in butter...or with anything for that matter. Despite minor side-effects, of which I will leave out, I could easily eat them with every meal. Although served hot they are unbelievably juicy and refreshing and they are the perfect starter for the oncoming summer. I love asparagus on their own, in salad, with meat, ohhh and with poached eggs!
Having just read Nick Wyke's article on How to Cook Asparagus, my taste buds are excited. There are so many ways to cook and serve this heavenly vegetable. As I mentioned before, I love asparagus with eggs. One old favourite recipe which features both these ingredients is Gloria's Pasta. Gloria was one of my mother's hens and she, among a few others used to lay the most delicious eggs with bright orange yolks and an incredible flavour. I would never usually put a poached egg on to pasta but this really works. Each ingredient has its own unique flavour, yet put together the taste is fantastic.
delicious magazine's Pasta with asparagus, mint pesto and poached egg (GLORIA'S PASTA). SERVES 2
INGREDIENTS: 250g pasta, 250g asparagus spears, 4 slices pancetta, good bunch of mint leaves, 100ml good quality olive oil, 50g grated Parmesan, 2 eggs.
1. Cook 250g pasta of your choice (I prefer fresh tagliatelle) in plenty of boiling water until al dente, or according to packet instructions.
2. Add 250g asparagus spears, with the ends broken off, to the boiling pasta water for the last 2-3 minutes of the cooking time.
3. Meanwhile, grill 4 slices pancetta until crisp.
4. Put a good bunch of mint leaves into a food processor with 100ml good-quality olive oil, then blend to a puree. Stir in 50g grated Parmesan, lots of black pepper and set aside.
5. Poach 2 eggs in barely simmering water for 3-4 minutes.
6.Meanwhile, drain the pasta and asparagus, then mix in the mint pesto. Divide between 2 plates. Crumble over the pancetta, sprinkle with extra Parmesan and mint, then lift out the poached eggs with a slotted spoon and place on top.
I think it tastes better named after Gloria: unfussy, hearty, and fresh from the garden...
A less indulgent yet perhaps more satisfying way of making the most of the asparagus season is to lightly dress the asparagus with extra vergin olive oil, a thick and sweet reduced balsamic vinegar, a liberal pinch of salt and pepper and thin shavings of Parmagiano Reggiano. Best eaten soon after cooking, picked on the day for that wholesome grassy taste, or even cooled and taken to the park for a great picnic treat!
Food for thought...Perhaps try raw asparagus with wasabi??
Check out Nick Wyke's How to Cook Asparagus feature with video: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/article6140262.ece.
Original Gloria's pasta recipe from delicious MAGAZINE online: http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/Pasta_with_asparagus,_mint_pesto_and_poached_egg_411