Monday, November 14, 2011

Heaven sent spears - Asparagus!

We are right in the middle of asparagus season so now is the right time to enjoy this wonderful vegetable.

It is low in calories, packed with essential vitamins and minerals and long been recognized for its medicinal properties.

Its versatility makes asparagus a perfect meal accompaniment and it is equally delicious served hot or cold. Wash it thoroughly as the head can sometimes contain grit and sand from the growing process. Snap off the ends, it will snap at the point where it begins to be woody. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, salt it generously and add asparagus. Cook until tender. If serving cold, immediately plunge into ice water to refresh and maintain its beautiful colour. I love to eat it with my fingers dipping the ends into homemade mayonnaise but here is a delicious salad I want to share.

Asparagus and Tomato Salad
Serves 4 – 6 as an entrĂ©e

Extra virgin olive oil
45g anchovies, drained and chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
Dash of white wine vinegar
½ cup toasted breadcrumbs
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
24 – 36 asparagus stalks trimmed

Heat a little oil in a heavy based fry pan and cook the anchovies over medium heat until they begin to ‘melt’. Reduce heat, add garlic and cook for a further 1 –2 minutes then stir in the vinegar to taste adding a little oil as necessary. Stir in half the breadcrumbs and cook for two minutes then remove from heat and keep warm. Steam the asparagus until tender then drain and transfer to a platter with the tomatoes. Pour the anchovy mixture over the asparagus and sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs.