Need to know:
- When choosing, ensure asparagus stems are firm and the tips are closed. They should be bright green or with a slightly violet tinge. When you rub them you should hear a little squeak, which is an indication of freshness.
- Opting for thick or thin spears is a matter of personal preference; thin are sweeter and will cook very quickly; the chunkier ones have a more pronounced flavour and are particularly good if barbecuing.
- Asparagus should be used soon after purchasing; to extend its freshness, store in the crisper drawer with the ends wrapped in damp paper towel, or stand upright in a glass of water.
- Extremely versatile, asparagus can be eaten raw, but in just a couple of minutes can be stir-fried, grilled, steamed or blanched. You could also try roasting, brushed with a little oil.
- To prepare, snap spears off where they break – don't discard the woody ends; they can be used to give a great asparagus flavour to stock.
Try these asparagus-inspired recipes from the 2018 Food Christmas issue:
Quick dinners don't have to be boring - just one mouthful of this dreamy chicken and asparagus pasta and you'll never look back! Creamy and flavoursome, it seems a crime that it only takes 30 minutes.
If you are looking for a unique and delicious side dish, try this asparagus, pine nut and parmesan salad for a mouthful of flavour. It's so simple to make, and the marinated asparagus has a tasty zing.
This delicious buttered asparagus with peas and honey dish is great with roasted meats. It can easily be made ahead when entertaining, and served cold or reheated in the microwave.
For more great ways to use asparagus in your cooking, click here!
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