In this week’s post, local Nelson chef and guest Blogger, Grant Dicker has a few tips to help you prepare delicious new season asparagus. Take it away, Grant…
Spring has, as they say… Sprung! I know I say it every year, but this is my favourite season. Looking out across our garden, I can see blossom just beginning to bloom on the fruit trees. The only downside to all this new growth is that the lawn seems to need mowing daily!
The first few bunches of asparagus have begun to appear on the produce shelves at Fresh Choice Nelson. Asparagus availability will continue until mid-summer. Asparagus is a simple and versatile ingredient to use, but some find it intimidating as it can overcook so quickly. With this in mind, I have a few preparation methods that may help.
How to prepare asparagus:
Blanch & refresh:
A method that comes straight from the restaurant is called blanch and refresh. This is actually useful for lots of vegetables (particularly anything green). The method helps to retain a bright colour and flavour after cooking.
- Fill a bowl with water and ice cubes and set aside.
- Plunge your asparagus spears into a pan of boiling water.
- Cook for just 1-2 minutes, or until tender.
- Remove the spears with tongs or a slotted spoon, and place directly in the bowl of iced water.
- Store in the fridge until needed, then simply drain and quickly reheat in a pan with a little butter, when you’re ready to serve.
Another great way to cook asparagus is to chargrill it. Use either a griddle pan or place it on the barbecue. Perfect for summer! Slightly scorching the spears brings out a nutty flavour while still retaining their shape.
- Coat the spears in a little olive oil.
- Get your barbecue hot! Place the asparagus spears directly on the hot plate or grill plate, and season with salt and black pepper.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes, occasionally turning until tender.
- The asparagus is ready when it softens slightly and has some dark marks on the outside.
Peel raw ribbons:
Asparagus can be eaten raw too as part of a salad. The best looking method is to peel ribbons neatly from the sides of the asparagus and add them to summer salads.
- Simply peel off long ribbons until you get to the middle, then turn over and repeat on the other side.
Don’t forget to head to Fresh Choice Nelson for your delicious new season asparagus!