I love the simplicity of this salad. It’s such a quick and delicious side dish. Its three basic ingredients complement each other perfectly and can accompany many main courses. It’s also a winner served as a light lunch – with poached eggs and warm bread perhaps.
I’ve been a bit obsessed with asparagus lately. This might be because it’s in season right now and I can easily find wonderfully fresh produce. But let’s face it – it’s a wee bit sexy too. Just look at it. Its season is from February to June but it peaks in April. Source it carefully and buy organically grown whenever you can – it’s always worth it. Asparagus deteriorates quickly once it has been picked, so you’ll find the best grown locally, from farmer’s markets. Ideally you should eat it on the day that you buy it. It should be bright green in colour with no signs of shrivelling. The tips should be firm and closed, never ‘mushy’. The thicker specimens are often more tender due to the smaller ratio of skin to volume. If you have the outdoor space, go mad and try growing your own!
I think you should all get as excited about serving it as I am…so here are some ‘fun facts’ about asparagus:-
Earliest records show that it was cultivated in Greece about 2500 years ago. Our ancient ancestors believed in its medicinal properties and used it as a cure for toothache. Then the Romans got all keen (well, they would, wouldn’t they) and grew it behind high, protective walls. It didn’t appear in England until the 1600s.
It contains more folic acid than any other vegetable and is also a good source of potassium (which helps to lower blood-pressure) and vitamins E, A and C.
My favourite: 6 spears are only 22 calories. Oh yes. Doesn’t apply if you smother them in delicious salted butter though.
The white variety is more tender than the green but has less flavour as the growing shoots are kept hidden from light under the soil. (Buy green!)
Asparagus – about 3 bunches should be enough for a large platter to serve 8 as a side dish
Rocket (Arugula) – enough to densely cover the bottom of your platter. Washed and patted dry.
Parmesan cheese – thinly shaved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
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