This weekend I am doing my first proper cookery demo at The Greener Living Show in the New Forest. To make things as easy as possible I am keeping it simple and seasonal. I will be cooking asparagus three different ways to show how one vegetable, if prepared differently, can taste completely different.
First and foremost; boiled asparagus. A great way of cooking asparagus but it’s hampered with the lingering fear of over cooking it and ending up with a soggy, limp green stalk. I don’t bother putting only the stems in the water so the heads can steam gently, I just throw it all in and it works every time. I like this way of cooking asparagus because it has a silky, soft texture when done.
A bunch of asparagus
25g salted butter at room temperature
Zest and juice of ½ an orange (unwaxed)
Zest of ½ a lemon (unwaxed)
How long you leave the asparagus boiling for depends on your texture preferences and the size of the asparagus. I normally cook it for 2-3 minutes and then check it unless it is very thin. Remove the bottom inch to inch ½ of the asparagus before boiling as the ends can be woody.
Asparagus is always wonderful when smothered in butter. It’s even better when there’s some acidity to cut through the richness. While the asparagus boils make the flavoured butter to go with it. Beat the butter until softened and creamy and then grate in the zest of the lemon and orange and a good grinding of black pepper before mixing together.
When the asparagus is done, remove it from the water but don’t completely drain it. The water clinging on to the asparagus will thin out the butter a little. Put knobs of butter on to the asparagus and then squeeze the orange juice over the top.
If you can’t be bothered with a hollandaise I reckon this is the next best thing. Sweet, juicy asparagus spears covered in salty, fragrant, citrus butter and the recognisable flavour of pepper. The butter is slightly thinned by the water and orange juice meaning there is ample sauce to mop up with crusty bread.