On June 1st you’ll find me in the sunshine at Penshurst Farmers Market cooking up three great recipes that make the most of three grades of wonderful Kent asparagus from Michael Bourne of New Park Farm, Groombridge. If you don’t make the market, here are my recipes for you to try at home……
Asparagus and goat’s cheese tart
Use sprue or the mid grade spears for this summer tart. I use local goat’s cheese and serve it warm for supper with new potatoes and salad or cold for picnics. As you can see from the picture, I’ve made a triple amount for the market and cooked it in a big shallow roasting tin for tastings for the market
Serves 6/Prep 15 minutes /Cook 50 minutes/ Skill: medium
a 23cm unbaked shortcrust pastry case
250g bunch English asparagus, trimmed
150g goat’s cheese, roughly cubed
4 medium free-range eggs
150ml single cream
3 tbsp snipped chives
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/fan oven 190C/Gas Mark 6. Line the pastry case with a crumpled sheet of greaseproof paper and baking beans or raw rice. Bake ‘blind’ (see below) for 10 minutes then remove the beans and paper and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes until the base is almost cooked through.
2 Meanwhile cook the asparagus in simmering water for 3 – 4 minutes until just tender. Drain and run under cold water. Pat dry with kitchen paper and cut into 5cm lengths. Arrange over the base of the pastry case and scatter over the goat’s cheese.
3 Whisk together the eggs, cream, chives and seasoning. Pour the egg mixture over the filling and bake the tart for 30 – 35 minutes until the filling is set and the top puffy and golden. Serve warm or cold with salad
Busy mum’s lifesaver: Baking “blind” ensures the pastry is cooked on the base properly before you add the filling. Crumple a large sheet of greaseproof or baking parchment bigger than the pastry case and use to line it loosely. Add enough dry rice or dry beans to hold the paper in place but not to weight the pastry down too much.
Griddled asparagus with pine nut and parmesan dressing
Essentially a simple pesto, this dressing comes from my daughters’ father and it is really good with simple salad leaves, griddled or barbecued Mediterranean vegetables, such as strips of courgette and peppers, or griddled asparagus. I also use it tossed with freshly cooked new potatoes for a superb potato salad. Make it and store in a screw topped jar in the fridge for up to 3 days
Serves 4/Prepare 5 minutes/Cook 5 – 6 mins/Skill: easy
400g premium asparagus spears, trimmed
For the dressing:
25g pine nuts
1 garlic clove, peeled
A little rock salt
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese or local hard cheese
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1. To make the dressing place the pine nuts and garlic in a mortar with a sprinkling of rock salt. Use a pestle to pound the ingredients together until you have a smooth paste. Then work in the Parmesan and parsley. Gradually add the olive oil a little at a time until you have a thick dressing. Check the seasoning, adding freshly ground black pepper to taste.
2 Brush the asparagus spears with olive oil and cook on a barbecue or griddle pan for 5- 6 minutes, turning until tender and charred. Serve with the dressing.
Taken from my The Busy Mum’s Vegetarian Cookbook (Simon & Schuster)
Shaved asparagus salad with poached egg and sour dough toast
This recipe arrived in my head when I wanted a quick lunch, the asparagus was in the fridge needing to be used, and I didn’t feel like cooking much. It worked wonderfully, was really tasty and clean and I will be doing it again…..
For one person, use a swivel peeler to make thin ribbons from three or four medium grade asparagus spears. Run the peeler from tip to stem then place in a bowl with a splash of cold pressed rape seed or olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, a little grated lemon rind and a handful of mixed seeds – I use a Waitrose mix from their Love Life range that has sundried tomato and pine nuts in. If you have time leave the salad to stand for 15 minutes as the lemon juice will act on the asparagus and ‘cook’ it a little. Add shavings of a hard cheese such as Parmesan or for a local cheese I use Lord of the Hundreds. Season and pile onto toasted sourdough bread. Top with a poached egg and serve.
You can add other ingredients the asparagus salad – I like shavings of beetroot, flaked hot smoked salmon, chopped fresh tarragon, cubes of pancetta, or a blue cheese such as my favourite Kentish bluebell….