Reeling in the spears: 10 spring recipes for $1 asparagus | Australian food and drink

Asparagus season is in full swing, and growing conditions have been particularly good in Australia this year. With bunches high in quality and low on price, some green grocers are selling the green spears on special for as cheap as $1 a bunch. Here’s what to do with spring’s hottest tips.

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If you can wrap asparagus in bacon, you can definitely do the same with jamón. This is a simple yet elegant dish – steamed new-season spears blanketed with slices of jamón, crisp eggs, sunny-side up and a flourish of chives, olive oil, salt and pepper to finish. Greens, eggs and ham – the perfect trio.

Still aboard the steamed asparagus train, Nigel Slater’s recipe takes a classic accompaniment – mayonnaise – and adds white miso for complexity. Next stop: his steamed asparagus with wild garlic hollandaise.

Roddy has a tagliapuntarelle – an Italian mesh cutting implement – at her disposal, which shears her asparagus into satisfying ribbons. You could do the same with a knife and cutting board, though the process will be slower, and less novel.

Tagliapuntarelle or no, the result is a squiggly, springtime delight: long asparagus, even longer spaghetti, and an emulsified sauce of lemon and butter.

Meera Sodha’s asparagus thoran. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Louie Waller. Food assistant: Katy Gilhooly. Photo assistant: Sam Reeves.

“A side in name, but a star on the table,” writes Sodha, and it’s easy to see why. Her recipe riffs on the flavours of Kerala and starts with a temper of curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds, progresses with golden onions and ginger, then a stir-fry of tomatoes, cashews and asparagus. Finish with lemon juice and shredded coconut for a vegetable dish that holds its own.

Zaslavsky has given the Georgian savoury rice dish a seasonal, made-for-midweek update, with asparagus and broad beans instead of the traditional lamb, and broken rice to speed up the cooking time. The result is an extra fluffy shila plavi, turbocharged with an express adjika (spice paste), with the risotto-primavera-like flavours of spring produce.

Felicity Cloake’s asparagus tart
Felicity Cloake’s asparagus tart Photograph: Robert Billington/The Guardian. Food styling: Lucy-Ruth Hathaway.

This tart looks impressive, writes Cloake, but it’s actually more of an “assembly job”. You could make the pastry from scratch; but if your 2023 resolution was to work smarter and not harder, store-bought shortcrust is your friend. From there, it’s a matter of blind-baking the pastry, making the filling (asparagus puree, an egg-and-cream mixture, a touch of cheese), and artfully decorating the top with your best looking spears.

It feels counterintuitive to slice asparagus into rounds – why destroy those slender stalks and flourishing tips? But it is hard to argue with these asparagus, dill and ricotta fritters. Especially if, as Slater advises, you’ve timed the frying just right so they’re golden on the outside, but still soft and creamy on the inside.

Asparagus and ricotta fritters
Nigel Slater’s asparagus and ricotta fritters. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

In Thai, asparagus is called “nohr mai farang”: foreigner bamboo. “It makes perfect sense in that context to treat it like a young bamboo shoot,” writes Anderson, who advocates them to be cooked quickly, as close to their “natural state” as possible. Trim their woody ends, shave the tough outer skin, and slice into bite-size lengths, then toss in a hot wok with garlic, oyster sauce, mirin and plum vinegar. You could serve it as a vegetable dish as part of a banquet; for protein, firm tofu or prawns are good additions.

Asparagus mimosa salad
Anna Jones’s asparagus mimosa salad. Photograph: Issy Croker/The Guardian

The word “mimosa” can mean many things: a type of flowering tree, salad, the cocktail of choice for so-called “bottomless brunches”. Here it refers to Jones’s vinaigrette of white wine vinegar, dijon mustard and shallots, which marries beautifully with steamed asparagus and – if you can find it – sprouting broccoli.

Winter may be over, but soup season is not (and in my books, it never will be). Slater describes this recipe as part soup, part vegetable stew, velvety with coconut milk and starchy white beans, earthy with turmeric and ground coriander, and buoyed up by asparagus, lemon and soft herbs. Savour it one grateful spoonful at a time, as you brandish your ladle and shout: long live soups!

The Post Reeling in the spears: 10 spring recipes for $1 asparagus | Australian food and drink Originally Posted on www.theguardian.com

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