Time to get Creative with those Veggies!

Time to get Creative with those Veggies! – This time of the year is my favourite as far as cooking is concerned.  Our home-grown British Asparagus is in abundance – just so fabulous and easy to cook.  We’ve been spoiling ourselves lately, as it’s so plentiful.  Try just grilling it on a griddle pan – it makes a speedy and delicious change from steaming it and the grilling adds a further dimension to the flavour.  I tend to use the ‘snap’ method to remove the woody part of the stem – and we always use our fingers to eat it – there is something rather decadent about that.

Asparagus is packed full of goodness:  eating it promotes healthy bacteria in the large intestine and can help reduce bloating; it contains vitamin K which is essential for healthy blood clotting, it’s a source of vitamin C (boosting that immune system) and is a mild diuretic, believed to detoxify the body…all that and it tastes damned good too!

If you want lots of inspiration, then visit the British Asparagus Growers’ website here and also UK Shallots here where there are loads of great recipes.  Here, below, are a couple I’ve chosen that are perfect for picnics and socially distanced gatherings outside with our friends and family, (assuming the weather improves again!) Perfect for summer entertaining and picnics, they are quick and easy to prepare for delicious results. The sweet and sour shallots in the tart just melt in the mouth.  While the recipe calls for Dolcelatte, it will work equally well with our British blue cheeses, like the delicious Shepherd’s Purse Harrogate Blue (Waitrose and Ocado). Our artisan cheesemakers desperately need our support. 

And if you are unable to visit the shops or farmer’s market to buy your asparagus, then you might like to check out another excellent home delivery service I have recently discovered.  Pale green dot, like Frankonia the Bread House who had been supplying the hospitality industry, which of course has been shut down since the end of March. The quality of the product is superb, and the prices very reasonable indeed. The company offers a wide range of different products including meats, dairy and much more.  While nothing beats selecting your own fruit and veg, this comes a pretty close second and is a Godsend for anyone who is in quarantine or unable to get out and about. Or perhaps, like me, someone who appreciates not having to lug it all home – and relishes the excitement of finding out what’s in the box!

Asparagus, Pea and Bacon Mini Frittatas
Asparagus, Pea and Bacon Mini Frittatas

Asparagus, Pea and Bacon Mini Frittatas   

Serves: 6 Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes 

100g bacon lardons

3 large eggs

75ml crème fraiche

30g Parmesan cheese, grated

Salt and Pepper 

100g chopped, blanched British asparagus 

50g frozen peas

2 tbsp chopped chives

1. Preheat the oven to 180˚c and line a muffin tin with six cases.

2. Heat a small frying pan and cook the bacon lardons until they are golden and crispy.  Allow to cool. 

3. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, crème fraiche and Parmesan and add a little salt and pepper.  Add the asparagus, peas, bacon lardons and chopped chives and stir together.  

4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin case and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.  

5.  Serve warm or cool completely and pop into a container

Balsamic Glazed Shallot, Dolcelatte and Asparagus Tart
Balsamic Glazed Shallot, Dolcelatte and Asparagus Tart

Balsamic Glazed Shallot, Dolcelatte and Asparagus Tart 

Serves: 4 Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time:  15-20 minutes

16 shallots, peeled and halved

150g asparagus tips

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

320g ready-rolled puff pastry

100g Dolcelatte blue cheese

A little milk or egg for glazing

1. Pre heat oven to 200c /180c fan /gas 6.

2. Place the shallots and asparagus in a griddle pan, add the oil and toss until lightly coated.

3. Cook over a medium heat turning at regular intervals until softened and beginning to colour, remove the asparagus if it cooks quicker than the shallots.

4. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan and allow to bubble and coat the shallots and asparagus. Set aside and allow to cool.

5. Unroll the pastry and place on a baking tin, with a sharp knife cut a border around the pastry, approx 2.5 cm from the edge, tap the edges with a knife to separate the layers slightly and prick the middle with a fork several times.

6. Spoon the shallots and asparagus onto the pastry case, inside the border and top with cubes of Dolcelatte. Brush the edges with a little milk or beaten egg and cook for approx 15 – 20 minutes until golden and risen.

7. Serve warm with a watercress and rocket salad.

The Seasoned Gastronome

Twickenham and Richmond Tribune

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