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!
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.