Asparagus spears are around now. Make sure the spear tips are tightly closed and firm when you buy them.
There are many ways to use this lovely vegetable.
Peel away any thickness at the ends of the spears. Simply boil the spears for 3-5 minutes and serve with butter and grated cheese – Manchego is good (cheaply bought at the Thursday market in Devizes!). After boiling the asparagus spears dip them in a soft boiled egg. Crumble white bread, fry the crumbs until crisp and brown and sprinkle over the cooked asparagus. Cook polenta by adding 150g of the grain to a litre of water and 2 teaspoons of salt in a large bowel in the microwave for 12 minutes stirring once. Add 45g of butter and pepper and let it stand for 3 minutes. This makes a firm polenta.
Leave to cool slightly and cut into cubes and serve with the cooked asparagus and a hollandaise sauce. Make a hollandaise sauce by whisking egg yolks with a little white wine in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until frothy and then mix in melted butter until creamy.
This dish can be eaten at room temperature. Thinly slice cooked asparagus, mix with cooked rice and lots of freshly chopped herbs and dress with lemon juice and olive oil.
(Some ideas taken from Annie Bell’s Vegetable Book) Rhubarb is really fresh and tasty this month. A simple recipe is to cook with a little water, puree, sweeten and mix with ready made custard for a good dessert. If you have a lot of rhubarb cut into chunks and place it loosely in a freezerproof bag and freeze. Place the chunks in an ovenproof dish. Mix with orange rind or chopped ginger, stir in sugar to taste. Cover with foil or a lid and cook in the oven at 180c for 45 minutes. This way the rhubarb keeps its shape and flavour. You can now serve it as it is with yoghurt or ice cream. Handy tips Don’t follow a recipe to the letter. If you don’t have an ingredient, use something you do have. Adapt the recipe to suit you and your family. Make the most of what is fresh and local where possible.