A recent post on Facebook came to our attention. Tara Walker of The Tasty Tart cookery school in Termonfeckin was out and about collecting the first crop of Irish asparagus. It’s a vegetable you don’t see that often in cottage gardens. By my, what a wonderful vegetable when it is enjoyed in season, homegrown and straight from the garden. The bundles of spears from Spain and France could never compare! May is the traditional month for homegrown asparagus. A delicate veggie which needs only the briefest of cooking. Special asparagus pots are tall, enabling the spears to stand upright, with the delicate sprouting ends out of the water. But most of us don’t have one of these because we don’t eat asparagus often enough! So instead, use an electric steamer or set a large colander over a pan of simmering water to steam your asparagus. Trim the ends of the stalks first – the easy way to do this is just to bend the stem lightly at the stalk end. It should snap satisfyingly at the right point where the tough stalk ends and the tender stems begin. You can discard the tough ends, or add them to a stock pot – but asparagus does tend to dominate flavours so be careful what you use the stock for afterwards.
Simple dressings for asparagus include vinaigrette dressing, melted butter, or creamy Hollandaise sauce. Fashionable restaurants often grill tender asparagus stalks over charcoal and serve with a flavoured butter or olive oil and balsamic vinegar. These spears are delicious in a delicate Asparagus Risotto also. Said to be quite an aphrodisiac too – one of the foods meant for feeding each other because some people say asparagus spears have a phallic appearance – ahem!! We just like them because they are only in season for a few short weeks of summer and they taste wonderful!