02 Nov // Did somebody say asparagus?

Spring has well and truly sprung in NZ and it's that glorious time of year where things can be all sunshine and lollipops one minute, and sideways icy rain the next. It's also peony season (praise be!) and nearly the silly season, and yet again, the time for new season asparagus. In a former life I was a huge fan of roasting it to within an inch of it's life in the oven, with olive oil, salt and pepper, and sometimes chilli flakes, but this year especially I’ve lightened things up a bit. It’s great just blanched, and it’s great on the barbecue, and I’ve even been successfully just chopping it and chucking it into a bowl of water and then in the microwave for a couple of minutes. I’ve also been munching it raw: my seasonal addiction knows no bounds.

I’ve already dedicated at least one of my Herald on Sunday columns to this green, spear-tipped beauty, and since all my recipes from the paper go up on bite.co.nz I thought I’d trawl my own archives with some other ideas for you. I’m sure by the end of the season I’ll be over it (not that getting over it is my strong point, shout out to all those with a lingering crush you just can’t give up) but in the meantime I'm bascially eating a bunch a day. Yes it makes your pee stink but it's not that bad and it's only a short season and it really is worth it, in my humble opinion. Let’s just eat it until we’re sick of it, ok?

 

 

 

  • Is haloumi the greatest food of all? Are fritters with haloumi just cheese filled pancakes, aka heaven? Is there anything asparagus can't do? Only this recipe for pea, haloumi, asparagus and mint fritters will have the answer!  

 

  • Need a snazzy canape? (snazzy canape, you heard correctly). How about these prosciutto and asparagus rolls? You could sass them up with a bit of thyme and a soft grating of parmesan? You could serve aioli on the side if your heart so desired?

 

 

 

  • This Hello Spring Salad is verrrrry similar to the above recipe I did this year (woops), but last year I added sumac for a bit of punch and avocado and salad greens for a bit of bulk.

 

  • If you’re a fan of pinenuts, or if you're vegan-cooking inclined (omitting parmesan) this asparagus and pinenut spaghetti is another way to get a quick, filling, and tasty dinner on the table midweek.    

And see below for another option, made even better with fennel seed filled ‘kraut (although I used red cabbage instead of green this time round). As well as being an excellent salad, it works well as a topping on toast, especially with eggs.

Asparagus and pea salad

I have basically just been eating variations of asparagus salads all spring, and this is yet another. Remember to omit or change anything you don't like, it's a forgiving recipe! 

Dressing: 

1/2 red onion or 1 shallot, finely diced

1 tsp dijon mustard

Juice of half a lemon 

1 clove garlic, crushed 

1 tbsp white wine vinegar (could sub for rice wine or red wine vinegar)

2 tbsp olive oil 

Pinch sea salt

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl with a fork, until emulsified. Taste and adjust as necessary. 

Salad: 

1-2 cups frozen peas

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 3-4cm lengths

1/2 avocado, cut into cubes

2 tbsp sauerkraut (I have a recipe here if you want to try making your own, and you should!)

1/2 cup mixed seeds and nuts of your choice: I used sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chopped almonds, lightly dry toasted in a frying pan

Few leaves each fresh basil and mint, finely chopped

OPTIONAL EXTRAS: haloumi; smoked salmon; feta; poached or panfried chicken. ALSO: this would make a great topping for toast, along with a eggs. 

Method: 

Boil a pot of water. Once boiling, drop the peas in and allow to cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped asparagus and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and drain immediately, then rinse under cold water. Place in a large bowl. 

Add the avocado, sauerkraut, herbs, and nuts and seeds. Pour over the dressing and gently mix to combine. Serve with whatever you like - I used smoked salmon and haloumi for this one and it was great!