ASPARAGUS

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Season: late March to end of June

For seasonal excitement, you just can’t beat asparagus. The traditional asparagus season runs from April 23rd to June 21st. These days, clever growers stretch the season a little, but the English crop is still available for just a few months each year. Green asparagus is the classic choice, but purple varieties are now becoming more popular. White asparagus is grown without light - the spears are earthed up, depriving them of sunshine. When the weather is warm, asparagus grows extremely quickly - up to four inches per day!

Seven IDEAS FOR asparagus

  1. To prepare the spears for cooking, snap off any woody lower section. To do this, hold the spear between each hand then bend - it will naturally snap at the tender part.

  2. Keep it simple! Try asparagus on the barbecue, on the griddle or in a stir fry. Cook them fast to preserve their crunch and natural sugars. A sprinkle of sea salt and squeeze of lemon juice is always a good bet.

  3. Roasting asparagus is also dead easy: toss the spears with olive oil, salt and pepper then roast in a hot oven at around 220C until crispy.

  4. Purple asparagus is best served raw. Try slicing the spears into ribbons to serve in a salad.

  5. A classic twist is wrapping the spears in a sliver of fatty bacon or prosciutto. Roast fast in the oven or crisp up on the barbecue.

  6. If you want to impress guests, try making a hollandaise sauce at home - this is a decadent dip.

  7. Other ideas include serving asparagus with burrata, lemon zest and roasted nuts, or with shavings of parmesan and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.