Seasonal local food recipe No.364 – Asparagus frittata with soft cheese and chives

This recipe was featured in The Guardian‘s 10 best asparagus recipes. It made for a very tasty meal on Friday evening accompanied by a green salad.

Serves 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

200 g asparagus, trimmed
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and cayenne pepper
nutmeg, freshly grated
3 large eggs, beaten
125g soft cream cheese
30g parmesan, finely grated
2 tsp chives, chopped
butter, for frying

Thinly slice the asparagus spears on the diagonal.  Warm the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the asparagus and season with salt, cayenne pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.  Cook gently over a low heat until the asparagus is tender and lightly coloured.  Tip out on to a plate, set aside and wipe out the frying pan.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, cream cheese, parmesan and chives until smooth.  Return the frying pan to a moderate heat, add a little slice of butter and heat until it is just beginning to froth.  Pour in the egg mixture, turn down the heat to low and begin bringing in the frothing edges to the liquid centre of the pan using a spatula.

Tip the cooked asparagus into the pan and disperse evenly.  Continue to gently lift the more cooked parts of the frittata, allowing the liquid egg to slip underneath them until a happy, soft and curd-like medium has evolved.  This should take around 2 minutes.  Slide the frittata on to a plate and allow to cool a little before serving.

Seasonal local food recipe No.326 – Hugh’s bruschetta with broad beans and asparagus

I might have been tempted to make this recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every Day! for lunch today had we not already eaten the broad beans out of this week’s box!

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

12-15 asparagus spears, trimmed
200 g baby broad beans (podded weight)
A bunch spring onions, trimmed
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 large slices sourdough bread (or other robust bread)
1 garlic clove, halved (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil, to trickle
50 g mild, crumbly goat’s cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the asparagus spears and blanch for two minutes.  Scoop them out and drain.  Let the water come back to the boil.  Now add the baby broad beans and blanch for 30-60 seconds until tender, then drain.

Slice the spring onions on the diagonal into 1-2 cm pieces.  Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the spring onions and fry fairly gently for 2-3 minutes, until just beginning to soften.  Cut the asparagus spears into 2-3 cm pieces and add, along with the broad beans, to the spring onions in the pan.  Add salt and pepper and toss the whole lot together over the heat, for just a minute, then take off the heat.

Meanwhile, toast the bread.  Rub very lightly with the cut garlic clove, if you like.  Trickle the toast with a little olive oil.  Crumble the goat’s cheese over the veg in the pan and stir very lightly again.  Pile this veg mixture on to the toast, trickle with a touch more olive oil and serve.

Seasonal local food recipe No.280 – Jamie’s Couscous with grilled summer vegetables and loadsa herbs


This is from Jamie Oliver’s second book, the Return of the Naked Chef.

Serves 4

Preparation and cooking time: 30-40 minutes

255 g couscous
285 ml cold water
3 red peppers
1 handful asparagus, trimmed and peeled if need be
2 or 3 small firm courgettes, sliced
1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
2-4 fresh chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
3 good handfuls mixed fresh herbs (basil, coriander, mint, flat leaf parsley)
4 Tbs lemon juice
10 Tbs olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
red wine vinegar

Place the couscous in a bowl with the cold water.  This will start to soften the couscous and you will see the water disappear as it soaks in.  While the couscous is softening, blacken the peppers.  Either place the peppers directly on to the naked flame of a gas hob or blacken under the grill.  Both ways you need to blacken the peppers on all sides, so turn when need be.  When fully blackened cover in a bowl for 5 minutes until cool.  This will steam the skins and make peeling and deseeding easier.  Remove the skins and seeds and roughly chop.  On a very hot ridged grill pan, lightly char the asparagus and courgettes on both sides then toss them into the bowl with the couscous with the peppers, spring onions, chillies and ripped up herbs.  Mix well.  Make a dressing with the olive oil and lemon juice, add and toss well.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and a couple of dribbles of red wine vinegar for a slight twang.

Seasonal local food recipe No.277 – Hugh’s griddled asparagus spears with lemon dressing


This recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book Veg Every Day.  These can be done on a barbie outdoors, on a ridged cast-iron griddle pan in the kitchen, or even, at a pinch, under a grill.  When barbecuing, threading the asparagus spears onto skewers makes it easier to turn and cook them without losing them through the bars of the grill.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 6 minutes

20-30 asparagus spears, trimmed
4 Tbs olive or rapeseed oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
6-10 mint leaves, finely shredded
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan, pecorino or hard goat’s cheese, to serve

Light the barbecue well in advance if you are cooking outside.
Soak 8 wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes.  If the asparagus spears are pretty thick – more than 5mm across the middle of the stem – or perhaps not so freshly cut, it’s best to blanch them first.  Add to a pan of boiling water, blanch for 1 minute, then drain and refresh in cold water.  Drain well and pat dry.

Thread the asparagus on to the skewers, about 5-6 per skewer, pushing it through the middle of the spears.  Brush the asparagus with some of the oil and season with salt and pepper.

If cooking indoors, heat the griddle or grill until hot, then place the asparagus skewers on the griddle or under the grill about 10cm from the heat.  If cooking on a barbecue, you want it medium-hot, rather than super-fierce – you should be able to hold your palm about 15cm above the coals for a few seconds.  Grill the asparagus spears for about 3 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, until tender in the centre and lightly charred on the outside.

Whisk about 2 tablespoons oil with the lemon juice, some pepper and the mint to make a dressing.  Remove the asparagus from the skewers, arrange on a plate and trickle the dressing over them.  Sprinkle with flaky salt and shave some cheese over the top if you like.

Seasonal local food recipe No.227 – Yotam’s baked asparagus with parmesan and poppy seeds

This makes a lovely dish for a special occasion. It’s from chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s weekly series in the Guardian. You’ll need thick asparagus stems – like the Cornish asparagus we all had in last week’s vegetable boxes.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 18 minutes

2 large (24cm x 48cm) sheets filo pastry
2-3 tbsp olive oil
16 thick stemmed asparagus spears, woody stems trimmed
1 egg, whisked
30g parmesan, finely grated
1½ tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp coarse sea salt

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Put both sheets of filo on top of each other and cut widthways across the middle. Arrange the filo into one pile, then cut the pile into four squares so you end up with 16 filo pastry squares in total.

You will now need to work fast, otherwise the filo will dry out. Lay one filo square on a work surface and brush with plenty of olive oil. Place one asparagus spear at the bottom edge of each square, with the florets exposed, then roll in the pastry to wrap up securely – you’re aiming for a cigar shape with the asparagus head sticking out. Brush each asparagus parcel with egg and sprinkle over some parmesan, poppy seeds and salt. Place the parcel on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, and repeat with the remaining filo and asparagus.

Bake for 18 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and the asparagus cooked through. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Seasonal local food recipe No.226 – Nigel’s asparagus and lemon risotto

The lemon juice gives this risotto a lovely fresh taste.  It’s from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries.  The original recipe uses chicken stock but I am sure vegetable stock will be just as good.

Serves 2

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

50 g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
200g arborio rice
1 glass white wine or Noilly Prat
400g asparagus chopped into short lengths
1 litre hot stock
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
salt and pepper
3 tbs parmesan cheese, grated

Melt the butter in a wide, high-sided pan over a low heat.  Add the onion and let it soften in the butter, stirring occasionally, until it is translucent and silky.  Stir in the rice then add the wine and let it bubble down until the liquid has pretty much disappeared.  Add a ladleful of stock, turn the heat up a bit, then let the liquid almost disappear before adding the asparagus and a second ladle of stock.  Continue adding the stock as it boils down to almost nothing, stirring the rice frequently. Season with salt, pepper, the lemon zest and juice to taste and continue cooking until the rice is creamy but has a little bite left in it.  Stir in the cheese and eat immediately.

Seasonal local food recipe No.190: Hugh’s roast new potatoes and asparagus with baked eggs


Another scrumptious dish to make with the Cornish asparagus from Lower Croan and the new potatoes from Restharrow Farm in our veg boxes this week. It’s from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall in the Guardian

Hugh says: “New potatoes and asparagus both respond so well to roasting. Add some eggs and you’ve got a satisfying supper dish.”

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes

600-700g new potatoes, cleaned and cut into small chunks
5-6 whole garlic cloves, bashed
3 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 400g asparagus
4 eggs
Chives, to serve

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Put the potatoes into a roasting dish with the garlic. Trickle over the oil, add plenty of salt and pepper, toss and roast for 30 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, snap the woody ends off the asparagus and cut the spears into 3-4cm lengths. When the potatoes are tender, add the spears, toss and roast for 15 minutes more, until the asparagus is tender.

Now create four little spaces among the veg for the eggs – you want to contain them as much as you can, so arrange the potato and asparagus pieces into reasonably snug bulwarks. Working quickly, so everything stays hot, break an egg into each space, then return the dish to the oven for about four minutes, until the whites are set and the yolks still runny.

Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the eggs, scatter some snipped chives over the whole dish and serve straight away (the eggs will continue to cook). If you don’t have, or don’t fancy, chives, grated parmesan is another very nice finishing touch.

Seasonal local food recipe No.189: Roasted asparagus with balsamic vinegar Ⓥ

“Simple and scrumptious,” says asparagus grower Julia Colgrave of Wykham Park Farm (via Guardian Cook). We’re making it with Cornish asparagus from Roger and Gill Derryman at Lower Croan near Wadebridge. All Camel CSA veg box members have got a bunch in their veg boxes this week.

Serves 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

500g English asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Parmesan cheese shavings (optional)
Salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C/450F/gas mark 8. In a large, shallow baking tin, toss the asparagus with oil, salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for around 10 minutes, shaking the pan every 3 minutes, until it is tender and lightly browned.

Remove the pan from the oven and drizzle the vinegar over the asparagus. Give the tin a good shake to combine them well and serve with a grating of fresh parmesan shavings.

Seasonal local food recipe No. 144: Cornish asparagus with chorizo and poached egg

The British asparagus season may be delayed, but here in Cornwall it’s already begun. Camel CSA’s weekly veg boxes each have a freshly-picked bunch of this delectable vegetable from Cornish Asparagus at Lower Croan, Sladesbridge, near Wadebridge.

And we’re proud of the fact that the total food miles = barely 2!

Roger and Gill Derryman of Cornish Asparagus have produced some recipe ideas for their customers. This is the simplest one.

Serves 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes

A bunch (approx 250g) of Cornish asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil
110g chorizo, sliced
2 eggs
Handful of chives, chopped

Preheat the oven to 210C. Put the Cornish asparagus into a roasting dish, add the olive oil and place in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

In a dry hot frying pan add the slices of chorizo. Cook on both sides for two minutes until the paprika oil oozes out of the slices. Remove from the pan and reserve the paprika oil.

Meanwhile place a pan of boiling water on the hob and bring to a fast rolling boil. When you have three minutes to go before serving, crack two eggs into the boiling water and immediately lower the heat to low-medium for two minutes. Then turn the heat off completely.

Remove the Cornish asparagus from the oven and place on a serving dish, sprinkle over the hot chorizo slices and add the poached eggs. Finally drizzle over the paprika oil from the frying pan and finish with the chives.

Simple recipes for fresh Cornish asparagus

Simple recipes for fresh, Cornish asparagus

The warm spring weather has brought on the asparagus crop in Cornwall.  We’ve been enjoying Cornish asparagus from Lower Croan, Sladesbridge in our veg boxes for the past three weeks.

There’s a lot to be said for local food that’s come straight from the farm and run up few food miles.

Camel CSA is incredibly fortunate to be situated just a few fields away from the Derrymans’ asparagus farm. So it’s always tender and freshly picked – nothing like the tough old stalks you get in supermarkets.

Most of us would agree that asparagus is best eaten either on its own with some butter or hollandaise sauce, or with just a few simple extra ingredients.

Roger and Gill Derryman never get tired of their own Cornish asparagus with bacon and parmesan.

I’m a fan of what I call simply delicious Cornish asparagus with dry-cured bacon and a free-range poached egg (from my own hens, naturally).

Garden biographer Trish Gibson, who posts a recipe every week on this website, likes it even simpler – just Cornish asparagus with egg (from her hens).

Camel CSA volunteer Henrietta Danvers, who used to run her own restaurant in London, recommends Mark Hix’s more sophisticated shaved asparagus and goat’s cheese salad.

And if you’re not sure what to do with this lovely vegetable, why not begin with the basics: How to cook British asparagus

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