Did you know that sparrowgrass – more (commonly known as asparagus these days!) is a seasonal staple in Germany and regarded as something of a delicacy? The white variety in particular is hallowed by Germans and in some quarters regarded as an aphrodisiac. While we can’t verify that claim, what is known is that asparagus’s distinctive earthy, slightly bitter flavour with its hints of sweetness holds within it some notable health benefits. Asparagus is rich in vitamins A and C as well as Folic Acid (vitamin B). Its fibrous texture may also support gut health. In short it’s full of nutrients but low in calories. Right now, Germany is in the midst of Spargelzeit (Asparagus Season) and what better way to celebrate the new harvest than with this indulgent recipe from Chef Dario that combines both white and green varieties of asparagus with delicious crispy ham and tangy parsley oil…
- Start by preparing the asparagus. Take each spear and hold it near the bottom end. Gently bend it until it snaps. Set aside but don’t discard the tough woody end.
- Peel the outer layer of the asparagus spears using a vegetable peeler. Start just below the tip and work your way down to the bottom end; don’t discard the peels.
- Fill a large pot with water and add a generous amount of salt and the lemon. Bring the water to a boil.
- Carefully add the prepared asparagus to the boiling water. Cook them for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are tender but still slightly firm.
- While the asparagus is cooking, prepare a bowl of iced water. Once the asparagus spears are cooked, remove them from the boiling water using tongs and immediately transfer them to the iced water. This will stop the cooking process and help them retain their bright colour.
- Let the asparagus sit in the iced water for a few minutes, then drain them well.
- We are going to prepare two creams, one with the remains of the white asparagus and the other with the remains of the green asparagus. In separate pots, cook the remains with water until covered and a pinch of salt, and then puree each pot separately with a blender and strain, so we will have two creams – one white and one green.
- For the parsley oil we are going to puree the two ingredients together and strain.
- For the crunchy ham, we are going to fry it in oil over low heat until it is crispy and dry with absorbent paper
- Serve the white and green asparagus warm over the two creams, the parsley oil on the sides and the crispy ham chopped on top.