SEASONAL EATS: ASPARAGUS


Asparagus season is just one of the things we love about this time of year. Looking for quick and easy ways to eat it? Here are three of my favourite recipes, which make perfect light Summer meals or starters.

 

ASPARAGUS WITH POACHED EGG & PARMESAN
Ingredients (serves 4):
2 bunches asparagus, woody ends trimmed
2 teaspoons vinegar
4 fresh eggs
25g (⅓ cup) finely grated Parmesan
Method:
1. Bring a large frying pan of salted water to the boil over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for two to three minutes, or until bright green and tender crisp. Using tongs, transfer the asparagus to a plate. Cover to keep warm.
2. Add the vinegar to the water in pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Crack one egg into a small bowl. Use a spoon to stir the water to make a whirlpool. Carefully pour the egg into the centre of the whirlpool. Cook for four minutes for a soft yolk, or until cooked to your liking. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining eggs.
3. Divide the asparagus among serving plates. Top with an egg. Season with salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan to serve.

ASPARAGUS & PARMESAN PASTRIES
Ingredients (serves 4):
6 tbsp mascarpone
40g grated Parmesan, plus extra shavings to serve
3 tbsp finely chopped basil
Zest ½ lemon
375g pack ready-rolled puff pastry, quartered (then cut to the length of the asparagus)
350g asparagus spears
1 tbsp olive oil
To serve:
A good handful pretty salad leaves, such as rocket, tossed in vinaigrette.

Method:
1. Heat oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Mix the mascarpone with the Parmesan, basil and lemon zest, then season.
2. Lift the pastry onto two trays, then score around the edges of each piece to make a thin border. Spread the cheese mixture within the borders.
3. Toss the asparagus in the oil, then arrange the bundles on top of the pastry (these can be stacked a bit for height). Bake the pastries for 20-25 minutes until golden, then serve warm topped with the dressed salad leaves and a few shavings of Parmesan.

ASPARAGUS PARMA HAM WRAPS WITH LEMON MAYONNAISE
Ingredients (serves 5 as nibbles):
20 asparagus tips
5 slices Parma ham
200ml light mayonnaise
Zest 1 lemon, juice ½ lemon

Method
1. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, tip in the asparagus and cook for two minutes, until just tender. Drain well.
2. Quarter each slice of ham, into four shorter strips, then wrap one around the middle of each asparagus spear.
3. Mix the mayonnaise with the lemon zest and juice, a little pepper and put in a small bowl. Serve with the asparagus, warm or cold, for dipping.
Tip: Fantastic for alfresco entertaini