Yep – we’re in silly season again. One of the shortest, surely, harvesting seasons of the year, but also one of the most delicious! Now, asparagus, as it turns out, isn’t that easy to ‘get going’, as you’ll see if you read ‘How to Plant Asparagus’, but once it’s had its few years settling in period and you’ve done all the hard work, it really couldn’t be easier! The season begins, generally, in May and lasts until mid-June. You shouldn’t pick after then as the plants need time to regenerate and get ready for the next year, so leave any spears to grow tall and into foliage.
The main reason I planted more this year was because I was fed up of only having one or two spears ready at a time: who can make a meal out of that? So I’ve planted several crowns in the hope that not next year but the year after, there’ll be an abundance, all in one go!
As I’m still waiting, I bought two large bunches of asparagus grown on the south coast as soon as it came into the supermarkets this year. The first bunch I served simply pan-fried with salt and pepper and drizzled in mayonnaise. For the second bunch I opted for a Nigel Slater recipe from ‘Tender’ (Volume 1). It’s called simply Asparagus with Pancetta.
First, cook your asparagus in boiling water until just tender. Then place in a shallow ovenproof dish.
Next, fry off either pancetta, or chopped smoked bacon, in a little butter and olive oil until crispy and the fat is rendered. I found I had to pour out the water from mine and melt a little more butter in later. Once crunchy, tip them over the asparagus.
Grate some Parmesan over the top and pop into a hot oven (200 degrees c) for 10 minutes or until the cheese is crispy and bubbling.
Ok, not very healthy I know, but really delicious!