The first local asparagus has hit the shops! No, not literally….that would be very messy…and maybe dangerous. Have you ever been poked in the eye with an uncooked asparagus spear? In a stupid story that I’m not going to go into here, I have and I can tell you that it hurts! I was first introduced to asparagus when I lived in Germany. I had the good fortune (aside from just the fact of being able to live in the beautiful city of Heidelberg) that I was very close to a town called Schwetzingen that was so famous for its white asparagus that it had a festival in its honour every year. Unfortunately, that was back in the Dark Ages, when there was only FILM photography, so I have no photos to show you the wonders of Schwetzingen, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that it’s beautiful (or google it)!
The salt I used on the asparagus came from a place in the South of France that we visited last year called Aigues-Mortes, which means “dead waters”. In the photo below you can see the actual salt piles and salt pans that made my salt, but no I didn’t go and scrape up some surreptitiously in a jar, although I was tempted! Aigues-Mortes stands on the flat-lands of the Carmargue, a beautiful empty area, where white horses run wild, and the cold Mistral wind howls more often than not. The town was built with its gate openings facing only in a certain direction, so that they could avoid the wind blowing through the streets. So, what has this got to do with this Italian recipe using asparagus, you ask. Well, nothing actually; but isn’t Aigues-Mortes an interesting town?
I think the best way to truly savour fresh asparagus is to eat it surrounded by as few ingredients as possible. A sprinkling of good olive oil and salt, and a smattering of grated Parmesan cheese fits the bill perfectly! Asparagus like this can be eaten as a side to anything (except for maybe another asparagus dish!), or as a main if you add a fried egg or two to the side of the plate and maybe some good quality, thin-cut prosciutto. It’s wonderful to dip the asparagus spears in the runny egg yolk!
So go out and grab yourself some green or white asparagus as fast as you can! The season doesn’t last that long. And if you want to make the kids eat it, tell them that it’ll make their pee smell funny (maybe this only works if they’re boys?!!).
By Lisa Watson
- 1 kg 2.2lbs Asparagus
- 2 – 4 Tbsp to taste Olive oil
- about 30g 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- to taste Salt
- Cut the ends off the asparagus, and peel the stems if you think they need peeling.
- Steam for 7 – 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stems. (Or boil them in salted water with a squeeze of lemon juice in it).
- Drain the asparagus, then pour some good olive oil on them. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and salt.
- This dish is often eaten with sunny-side-up fried eggs. You can dip the asparagus in the yolk….DELICIOUS!!! 🙂