Try these recipes with asparagus this spring when the new growths come in
Spring is definitely on its way when you see asparagus. The homegrown, misshapen ones I grow are vastly different to what you see in the supermarkets, but are certainly more tasty. I’ve focused on the conventional green variety here, but, next year, I plan to try the white ones that you have to keep covered in soil to prevent colouring.
Scallops on shaved asparagus and samphire with sweet-potato gratin (serves 4)
1 red chilli
2 cloves garlic, crushed
A handful fresh parsley
1kg sweet potatoes
300ml single cream
300ml whole milk
2 cloves garlic, crushed
12 scallops in shells
A splash of olive oil
100ml white wine Seasoning
Start by making the butter. Mix the butter with the finely diced red chilli, crushed garlic and a handful of chopped parsley. Chill in the fridge until ready to use. Preheat your oven to 180 ̊C/350 ̊F/gas mark 4.
Peel the sweet potatoes, thinly slice them and arrange them in a large ovenproof dish. In a large jug, mix the cream, milk, crushed garlic and seasoning. Pour the mixture over the sweet-potato slices and dot with butter before placing in your oven for about 40–45 minutes or until cooked. Add a knob of butter to each scallop. Place in the oven for 10–12 minutes.
Snap the woody ends from the asparagus and discard. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the tips into thin ribbons. Add the samphire and asparagus ribbons to a large frying pan and sauté with the olive oil, white wine and chilli mixture. This will only take a few minutes.
To serve, arrange the samphire and asparagus on a platter with the scallops on top. Serve the sweet-potato gratin on the side.
More ways with asparagus
Sweet potatoes with dressed asparagus
Peel 2 large sweet potatoes and cut into 2cm chunks. Add in a single layer to a baking tray with a chopped red onion and drizzle with olive oil. Mix everything around so that it’s coated in the oil. Scatter with seasoning and then roast in a hot oven for about 20 minutes.
When the sweet potato is almost cooked, add asparagus spears that have been tossed in olive oil to the roasting tray for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, pile onto plates and drizzle with a dressing made using 50ml olive oil, juice of a lemon, lemon zest, a tablespoon plain yoghurt and seasoning. Scatter with chia seeds as a finishing touch.
Asparagus soup with truffle oil
Gently fry 4 sliced shallots in olive oil and then add 350g asparagus tips and 2 crushed cloves garlic. Fry gently and then add enough vegetable stock to just cover. Add a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach leaves and stir until wilted. Simmer until tender. Use a handheld blender to blitz to a purée. Stir in a splash of single cream and add a drizzle of truffle oil to each bowl before serving. Serve with garlic-rubbed sourdough bread.
Asparagus as a side dish
My favourite and the speediest way to eat asparagus is to simply steam it and then add lemon juice, olive oil and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.