Asparagus makes its way into our kitchen any time from April through to the start of May. It’s one of those seasonal ingredients that people get genuinely excited about preparing and eating – and none more so than me! At Canteen we’ll be taking all we can get from producers like Tregassow, and working it into our daily menus.
British Asparagus is said to be the best in the world as the UK climate allows it to develop slowly, producing a full, sweet flavour and fine texture. The season is short and most of the local crop will be gone by late May or early June, so grab as much as you can.
Keeping things simple is so important to us, partly because good food doesn’t need much to bring it to life and also because we want to really taste the ingredients – especially when they have a unique flavour like asparagus does. Food with clever tricks and loads of ingredients is a bit like a conversation in different languages. You can hear it but it makes little or no sense!
So, with this in mind, try this recipe out.
Chargrilled asparagus with soft boiled eggs, tahini and rosemary salt.
4 or 5 spears of firm asparagus per person
3 tbsp of light tahini paste
1 small garlic clove
A good squeeze of lemon juice
One free range hens egg per person
Cornish seasalt flakes
3 sprigs of rosemary.
Simply trim the asparagus of any tough root. Set aside to pan fry or char grill.
To make the tahini start with the paste, lemon juice and minced garlic in a bowl and ever so slowly whisk in ice cold water. Don’t be worried by it suddenly thickening up, just keep going and it will become beautifully smooth. Stop once it gets to double cream texture. Season the tahini with salt and set aside.
To boil eggs either do what you have always done or bring a pan of water to the boil, gently lower the eggs into it, make sure they are covered with the water. Set a timer for 6 minutes. When their time is up, remove the eggs and run under cold water for a minute or so.
Finally make the rosemary salt. With a pestle and mortar or knife, crush the rosemary until the room smells of it and add the salt, combine thoroughly and taste. It’s salty but wonderfully aromatic when combined with the herb.
Now we are ready for the asparagus. Get a griddle pan nice and hot on the hob and add the asparagus (you don’t need oil) turning after a minute. Leave for a further 30 seconds and remove. Raw is good, over-cooked is not!
To bring this together, crack the top off the eggs, use the asparagus like soldiers, put a little pile of the salt on each plate and dress the whole thing with a squiggle of tahini.
Top Tip: Try pairing a local white wine with asparagus, as things that grow together should be eaten together. Alternatively, our friends at Secret Orchard Cider make a Nettle Cider, which we suspect would be a great match…
Also On Ben’s Seasonal Menu
Brilliant fun to pick and a novelty for people to see in a salad or cooked into risottos. Use just the tip - like spinach. Nettles are pretty much always around, but they are at their most sweet and tender in early spring, before the flowers form.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Like the asparagus, keep it simple and steam for two minutes, then dress while hot with fish sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine) and sesame seed oil.
Da Bara Bakery Hot Cross Buns
Alright, I know it’s not strictly a seasonal ingredient, but I’m a bit obsessed with these delicious and satisfying buns at the moment. Simply toast them and serve with hot salty butter and a pot of tea. This is a huge upgrade to the start, middle or end of any spring walk in Cornwall!