Asparagus

Asparagus

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery
Serves
4

This edible member of the lily family with its crisp stalks and closed, tender tips is considered a luxury vegetable throughout the world. Stalks may range from slender and green to thick, white and fleshy. Violet asparagus is favoured in Italy. Asparagus is delicious served hot, warm or cold. It may be served as an accompaniment, a first course, with salads, or combined with ingredients such as ham, cheese and eggs in main courses. When served as a separate course, it is best eaten with the fingers. When buying fresh asparagus look for firm, straight stalks with tightly closed, well-formed tips. Allow 6–8 spears per person when serving as a separate course.

Tinned asparagus is one of the most versatile and popular of tinned vegetables. It is used to make salads, sandwiches or a lovely mousse, and may be used in any of the ways suggested for hot, boiled asparagus.

Basic preparation: Wash gently in cold, running water. Break off the bottom of the stalks where they will snap easily. If stalks seem woody or scaly, peel them thinly with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife.

To store: To keep fresh for longer stand the bunch in 2.5 cm water and store in the fridge. Change the water frequently.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

  1. Chinese-style asparagus: Slice prepared stalks in slanted pieces, leaving tips whole. Heat enough butter to cover the bottom of a frying pan, add asparagus pieces and season with salt and pepper. When steam rises, cover the pan, lower the heat and cook for about 4 minutes until tender-crisp.
  2. Asparagus flamande: Prepare, boil and drain 24–30 asparagus spears, or use drained tinned asparagus. Hard-boil 4 eggs for 8–10 minutes. Melt 90 g butter. Serve asparagus to each guest with 2 hard-boiled egg halves and melted butter. Each guest mashes the hard-boiled eggs, then adds them to the butter, and dips the asparagus into the mixture.
  3. Asparagus au gratin: Prepare, boil and drain 24–30 asparagus spears, or use drained tinned asparagus. Make mornay sauce, adding 2–3 teaspoons French mustard. Arrange asparagus in a buttered flameproof dish, spoon over sauce, sprinkle with 50 g grated parmesan and 1 tablespoon melted butter, and brown under a preheated grill.
  4. Asparagus Milanese: Proceed as in the recipe for asparagus au gratin, but omit mornay sauce.
  5. Asparagus Hollandaise: Prepare, boil and drain 24–30 asparagus spears, or use drained tinned asparagus. Keep warm. Make 1 quantity hollandaise sauce. Serve asparagus with sauce spooned over tips.
  6. Asparagus with melted butter: Prepare, boil and drain 24–30 asparagus spears, or use drained tinned asparagus. Keep warm. Melt 125 g butter with a grinding of white pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve asparagus warm with melted butter.
  7. Asparagus polonaise: Prepare, boil and drain 24–30 asparagus spears, or use drained tinned asparagus. Keep warm. To make polonaise butter, combine 3 hard-boiled egg yolks, chopped, with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and fry 60 g fresh breadcrumbs until golden. Add egg yolks and parsley. Serve asparagus with polonaise butter.
  8. Asparagus noisette: Prepare, boil and drain 24–30 asparagus spears, or use drained tinned asparagus. Keep warm. Heat 90 g butter until a light hazelnut (noisette) colour. Serve asparagus with browned butter.
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