At EL Online we are firm believers in eating foods that are in season. Not only does choosing seasonal ingredients result in fresher, tastier, more nutritious meals, but it is more economical and environmentally friendly. The further food travels to get to our plates, the more this is reflected in the cost, and the more CO2 is produced in transportation. Therefore, it makes sense to choose vegetables (where you can) that are British based. You'll also be supporting the local economy (another bonus).
Early May is the start of the British Asparagus season (hurrah!) and dare we say: the highlight of the foodie's calendar. The delicious vegetable is only in season for a relatively short six to eight weeks, which explains all the excitement when the springtime stalk is ready to eat.
Facts about asparagus:
- Its name comes from the Greek 'asparagos', meaning shoot or sprout
- It is part of the same horticultural family as onions and garlic
- Asparagus stalks grow incredibly quickly. In ideal conditions an asparagus spear can grow up to 10 inches in a 24 hour period - a reason why in the East, the translation of its name is 'European bamboo.'
- As well as being farmed, aparagus will also grow wild, although the stems are a lot thinner.
- The vegetable is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and packed with fibre, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. It is also full of folic acid and iron, so if you're pregnant eat up! (For more essential pregnancy foods, see What to Eat When You're Expecting.)
Roast, grill, steam, stirfry, the options are endless when it comes to cooking this flavoursome vegetable. Roast and serve in a warm asparagus & potato salad (jersey royal potatoes are the seasonal pick); lightly steam and serve with hollandaise sauce; or boil and add to a fresh seasonal vegetable pasta dish.
See our recipe pages for more delicious Ways with Asparagus.
Tips for cooking:
- Bend each stem gently and cut off the tougher part of the stalk at the exact spot where it naturally bends.
- If you are growing your own asparagus or buying them delightfully muddy from a farm shop, don't wash the stalks until you are ready to cook them.
- Never, we repeat NEVER, overcook your asparagus. A snap or a crunch is the key to a perfectly cooked spear, reducing them to mush will destroy all the flavour.