…..not my words, but those of Reuters. Asparagus is obviously a vegetable that generates strong feelings.
I never buy imported asparagus. For me the whole point is to savour the all too short British season; the 8 weeks that runs from the beginning of May to the end of June, and then it is over for another year. I only really took a shine to this vegetable a couple of years ago. Before that I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I simply hadn’t cooked asparagus in a way that suited me so concluded it wasn’t for me. Now I absolutely adore the stuff and intend to make the most of it.
The key for me is to chargrill it and here’s how to do it. Wash the spears and break off the thick woody bit of stalk at the bottom if there is any (the stalk naturally snaps at this point). Blanch them in boiling water for just 60 seconds then remove to a piece of kitchen paper to dry them. Put a griddle pan to heat up, there is no need to oil the pan. Place the spears on a flat dish, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper then drizzle with virgin olive oil. Turn the spears over with your hands to coat them, then lay them on the hot griddle, hot enough so you hear them sizzle the moment they touch the ridges.
Griddle them for a few minutes (depending on the thickness of the spears) before turning them over and griddling the other sides. You are aiming for some black charred marks where they touch the pan. You can eat them just as they are or pile on top of pasta with pesto and finish off with grated parmesan. I can eat them like this every day (for 8 weeks!). I used to chargrill the spears without blanching them first but now prefer them done this way. It cuts down the grilling time and keeps them plump and succulent.