GRILLED ASPARAGUS WITH SHAVED PARMESAN
We think of asparagus in this country with a glowing national pride that has always puzzled me since, in my experience, most of what is produced in Britain should be thrown away or used for soup.
We ought to have the best asparagus in the world, but most of what you can buy in markets is withered, woody and past its best. Indeed, almost any other country’s asparagus is superior to ours, though I do not include here the fat white French spears from Argenteuil, which I dislike.
Up until recently I have preferred to use imported asparagus, but recent improvements in quality, freshness and trimming of our native product have made me think again. To my taste, the slender green sprue grass is the best for grilling and is, coincidentally the cheapest. Buy it towards the end of the season in June, when it is at its best.
When buying asparagus look for a bright green colour and hardly any woody stem. As soon as the stems look withered, you have old dried-out asparagus which is not worth eating.
With the exception of sprue, all asparagus needs peeling. Peelings from the stem can be used to make a good stock base for Risotto with Asparagus.
Mise en Place
Preheat a ridged grilling pan • Trim and peel the asparagus stalks and wash them. Pat dry and toss in I tablespoon of the olive oil together with a light sprinkling of salt • In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice or balsamic vinegar with the remaining olive oil and season this vinaigrette dressing to taste.
Simplicity itself: place the asparagus on the hot pan until rt starts to wilt. Using tongs, turn the spears and grill the other sides briefly. The ridges will mark the spears. You want them to brown them slightly, but not burn them.
Serve in the largest warmed soup bowls you have, passing the pesto separately for people to help themselves.
Ingredients – GRILLED ASPARAGUS WITH SHAVED PARMESAN
900g I 21b asparagus
5tbsp olive oil
juice of I lemon, or I tbsp balsamic
salt and pepper
I 15g I 4oz Reggiano Parmesan
cheese, to serve
Utensils – ORVIETO CHICKEN
ridged grilling pan
Reproduced with permission from Keep It Simple, A Fresh Look At Classic Cooking by Alastair Little
Available on Amazon