'Velocius quam asparagi coquantur' is a Roman proverb that translates to 'more swiftly than asparagus stems are cooked'. These words of kitchen wisdom originated from Emperor Augustus, according to food history, yet are still relevant today. For the best and most delicious asparagus has been cooked only very briefly, until just tender.
My recipe is adapted from one given by Lena Raab in Cooking with Asparagus, a brilliant title which is sadly no longer in print. I've used new season's baby asparagus that was generously delivered fresh to my doorstep by the Australian Asparagus Council (thank you!), combined with freshly picked lemons (a gift from my Lemon Fairy), freshly picked chervil from my kitchen garden (which somehow survived the frosts of a truly bitter Winter), and award winning extra virgin olive oil from Cobram Estate.
BABY ASPARAGUS WITH CHERVIL & LEMON DRESSING
1 x 100g bunch of baby asparagus
juice and finely chopped zest of a lemon
2 teaspoons EVOO (or more, to taste)
a few sprigs of fresh chervil
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, optional
Blanch the asparagus briefly in a centimetre of water, then drain and refresh quickly with ice cold water. Meanwhile, combine the lemon juice and EVOO in a small jug. Arrange the asparagus in an attractive serving dish. Sprinkle with the dressing and lemon zest (season with salt and pepper if desired). Garnish with sprigs of chervil. Allow the flavours to develop before serving. Serves 2-4.
The process in pictures...
Do you grow chervil or tarragon in your kitchen garden? Have you tried the first of the season's asparagus?
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.