In Season – Asparagus

Local asparagus rarely needs to be peeled or have the tough ends broken off. Cooking times are approximate, as it depends on the age of the asparagus. Edgar asparagus generally blanches in 1-2 minutes and cooks on the barbecue or in the oven in about 10 minutes, give or take.

Boiling or even steaming local asparagus can lead to limp spears and that stewed vegetable smell in your kitchen. Blanching is good if you plan to serve asparagus with hollandaise, use it in a fritatta, or wrap some sort of fancy ham around the spears. Otherwise grill, roast, or cook in a skillet to bring out the sweet earthy flavours.

Roasted asparagus

Roasting asparagus spears is quick, easy and doesn’t need constant attention. Garnishes could be shavings of Parmigiano (try another grana cheese such as Grizzly Gouda, Manchego or Piave del Vecchio to switch it up) along with a drizzle of precious balsamico, chopped egg and lemon zest, or toasted breadcrumbs with Parma ham.

  • 1 bunch Edgar asparagus
  • extra virgin olive oil sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • fresh lemon juice and zest

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender crisp.

To serve, place asparagus attractively on a platter and top with accompaniments of choice.

Asparagus Milanese

“This is my favourite way to serve Edgar Farms asparagus,” Daniel Costa, corso 32

  • 24 spears fresh asparagus
  • 4 duck eggs (Greens Eggs and
  • Fam) or chicken eggs (Four
  • Whistle Farms)
  • 8 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 300g Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the asparagus for approx. 1-2 minutes or until cooked al dente. Run under cold water to stop cooking and to keep brilliant green colour. Toss the asparagus in a large bowl with the olive oil, lemon and a large pinch of salt. Season to taste with more lemon and salt.

Heat a 12-inch non-stick frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the butter. Once the butter is melted add the eggs, season with a pinch of salt. Cook the eggs until the whites just set up (sunny side up).

Divide the asparagus evenly among 4 plates. Spoon a little of the olive oil and lemon left from the mixing bowl over the asparagus. Place 1 egg on top of each plate of asparagus. Grate the cheese over top of the asparagus and egg. Drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil, crack a little black pepper over. Serve immediately.

Classic asparagus with hollandaise

Hollandaise is considered one of the French mother sauces — automatically scary for most home cooks. It’s actually really easy to make, but you must pay attention and have a good whisk. Tips: Have all ingredients and equipment ready to go. Make it ahead to ease anxiety or make a blender version, but never, ever make from a mix. That would be a disservice to your asparagus.

Hollandaise sauce
  • 3 large egg yolks, room
  • temperature
  • 41/2 t fresh lemon juice
  • 12 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • sea or kosher salt and white
  • pepper
  • warm water

Place a pan filled with water on the stove and heat until barely simmering.

Pour yolks into a large glass bowl. Whisk until they turn pale, about 1 minute. Whisk in 4 1/2 t warm water.

Set bowl over the pan filled with barely simmering water and heat the yolk mixture over low heat, whisking vigorously, until thickened about 2 to 3 minutes (do not overcook). Remove bowl from heat and whisk in the lemon juice.

Whisk in melted butter, one drop at a time, leaving milky solids behind.

Pour the hollandaise sauce over the warm asparagus and serve. If making ahead, set the bowl over warm water, and keep sauce warm, whisking occasionally, up to 30 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick, whisk in 1 teaspoon of warm water at a time to thin.

To blanch asparagus

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add asparagus and cook until tender-crisp and bright green, 1 1/2-2 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain, then immediately plunge into a large bowl of ice water; set aside to cool, 2-3 minutes. Drain again, transfer to a clean dishtowel, pat dry. Set aside.

The Titanic asparagus salad with champagne-saffron vinaigrette

Adapted from Last Dinner on The Titanic.

  • 16-20 fresh asparagus spears
  • 1/4 t saffron threads
  • 1 T champagne vinegar (use
  • lemon juice if cannot find
  • champagne vinegar)
  • 1/2 t Dijon mustard
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch sugar
  • sea salt and white pepper
  • 4 hndsful fresh lettuce greens

Snap off the woody ends of the fresh asparagus spears and discard. Plunge the asparagus into salted boiling water and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp/tender. Drain under cold water to set the colour and stop cooking.

Soak saffron strands in a few teaspoons of boiling water. Let it stand for a few minutes, until the saffron softens (you’ll find the water turns yellow). Stir in the vinegar, mustard and pinch sugar. Whisk until smooth, and then whisk in oil. Keep whisking until it forms an emulsion. Season. Toss with the asparagus. Arrange greens on 4 plates and arrange spears over. Serve immediately.

Asparagus goat cheese tart with tarragon

This is similar to a tart made by the Dauphine Bakery.

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 bunch scallions (white and pale
  • green parts only), sliced thin
  • (about 3/4 c)
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut
  • diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick
  • slices, reserving tips
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 c goat cheese
  • 1 c milk
  • sea salt and freshly cracked
  • black pepper
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh
  • tarragon leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F. with a baking sheet on lowest rack.

Roll out pastry on a floured surface into a 16-inch square and fit into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable fluted rim. Roll a rolling pin over top of tart to trim pastry flush with top of rim. Chill.

In a small skillet, cook onion in butter over moderate heat, until transparent. Reserve. Sauté asparagus in the same pan until crisp-tender. Reserve.

Blend eggs, goat cheese and milk in a food processor. Add tarragon and pulse custard to combine. Season to taste. Spread onions and asparagus on pastry shell with tips arranged decoratively on top. (like a clock, for example). Pour custard slowly over vegetables.

Place tart pan on the heated sheet in oven for about 15-20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375°F and bake tart until set, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer tart pan to a rack. Remove rim of the pan and serve tart warm or at room temperature. Makes 12 generous slices.

Breakfast asparagus

Cooking asparagus in an almost dry cast iron skillet results in flavours akin to roasted. Delicious with eggs and toast, maybe some hash browns and grilled tomato.

  • 1/2 bunch asparagus
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • sea salt and freshly-cracked
  • black pepper

Heat butter to foaming. Lay asparagus in the pan and shake from side to side to coat asparagus. Cover tightly and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Check asparagus and turn as needed to make sure the stalks cook evenly and the tips don’t burn. Continue cooking 5 minutes longer, or until asparagus is tender but still crisp and bright green. Season. Serve immediately.

Liang ban lu-sun

This savoury treatment is a specialty banquet dish of Shandong province, as asparagus was once rare and very expensive in China. It’s an excellent accompaniment to barbecued pork from Chinatown, served with steamed rice. Adapted from Saveur magazine.

  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut
  • crosswise on the diagonal
  • into 2″ pieces
  • 1 T Japanese reduced-sodium
  • soy sauce
  • 1 t Asian sesame oil
  • 2 drops red chile oil
  • 1/2 T toasted sesame seeds
  • To blanch asparagus

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add asparagus and cook until tender-crisp and bright green, 1 1/2-2 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain, then immediately plunge into a large bowl of ice water; set aside to cool, 2-3 minutes. Drain again, transfer to a clean dishtowel, pat dry. Set aside.