Sunday, 22 April 2012

Green asparagus tips


Don't blink or you might miss it! The asparagus season in Denmark is very short but not too short that you can't enjoy the appetising delight of the vegetable that is the harbinger of spring. Like its clean and fresh flavour, asparagus is a straightforward vegetable that only requires the quickest and gentlest of cooking (if at all) to bring salads and light dishes to life.


To trim asparagus: bend the stalk and it will naturally snap at the point where it becomes inedible. Watch Søren's video clip from Madbio for a demo (arguably the internet's shortest cooking demo!). 

Thereafter, it couldn't be easier: to cook, simply steam the trimmed stalks for 3 minutes (whole or chopped on the diagonal) or add them raw to salads, couscous or bulgar wheat. Asparagus can just as easily be grilled, thrown into the wok for a stir fry or folded into a spring risotto. 


Because cooking asparagus is so simple, things in the kitchen are sometimes made more exciting and the stalks can be kept upright during steaming using an asparagus holder but it can be cooked just as well without.

It is not only the taste of asparagus that appeals but it also has great nutritional value: it contains a lot of water and so the calorie count is low and it is almost fat-free. The tips are rich in folic acid, good for both the immune and the digestive systems. They also contain vitamins B and C, calcium and sodium and antioxidants.



Ever wondered what is the difference between green asparagus and the white variety with the chunkier stalks? Or why the long green asparagus stalks are called 'tips'? Well, the two 'varieties' are the same thing but the green asparagus is the stalk that is left to grow for longer and grows up above the ground.

This week many of the Aarstiderne boxes include a bunch of young green asparagus and amongst the recipe archives are some delicious dishes - a couple of which are translated for you below:

If asparagus isn't on your menu for today, don't forget that it can be stored for up to 2 weeks if kept in a plastic bag or damp towel in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. To freshen up the stalks, give them a fresh cut and stand them upright in cold water for a couple of hours. 

Asparagus Risotto

Put some olive oil in a saucepan, add rice and chopped shallot, stir for a few minutes and then add the white wine and half the stock. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat. Watch that it does not boil dry, add more water if necessary. Peel the white asparagus and snap off the ends. Rinse the green asparagus, snap the ends and chop to pieces of desired length. Add the stalk ends and peel to water and make a stock (boil them in water and drain) and add this to the rice for more flavour and to stop it boiling dry. When the rice is almost tender add the white asparagus and steam it until tender. Then add the green asparagus and some dill, and stir it all gently for 2-3 minutes. Finally, add the freshly grated parmesan and a little lemon juice.


You will need:

½ bunch green asparagus
½ kg white asparagus
500 ml vegetable stock 
4 tbsp. olive oil 
50 g parmesan cheese 
1 tbsp. juice of lemon 
200 g risotto rice 
½ cup white wine 
dill
1  shallot

Asparagus Soup

Rinse the asparagus. Peel the white stalks with a paring knife from the head downwards. Cut the heads of both the white and green asparagus. Boil the white asparagus heads in a little water with some salt for 2-3 minutes and put them aside together with the raw green asparagus tips. Cut the rest of the asparagus into 2-3 inch pieces, put them in a saucepan with 4 cups water and salt. Add the potatoes and onions peeled and cut into small cubes, and cook, covered, for approx. 15 minutes until everything is tender.


Blend everything in a blender and return it back into the pan through a sieve. Boil the broth through for 4-5 minutes. Blend half with egg yolks and cream and pour it back into the saucepan. Give the soup a squeeze of lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and heat the raw green and cooked white asparagus heads up in the soup before garnishing with a shot of freshly chopped chervil. Serve with wholemeal bread.


(Katherine Ball)



You will need:

½ bunch green asparagus
1 kg white asparagus
2 pasteurized egg yolk (s) 
150 g potatoes
1 bunch chervil 
1 onion 
½ lemon 
500 ml water 
1 ½ cups cream 38%








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