No, I don't grow it yet but it's in the plan. Hey, it's my first growing season, give me a chance. I do, however, drive past J.L. Lampitt's farm once a week for work at the moment. I love asparagus and Lampitt's is good enough and cheap enough that I may take a while before I get round to producing my own.
Eating it is a challenge recently solved. The Line of Beauty has just made it to TV here and there is a lovely scene in the book which I missed in the adaptation where the principal character, Nick, is eating asparagus with his high-born hosts. The social differences between them are demonstrated by them tucking in with their fingers while he tackles the spears with a knife and fork. He has my sypathies. I've never understood the finger thing or the tendency to drown the lovely veggie in butter or Hollandaise sauce. The brilliant Marcella Hazan – surely the source for half of Jamie Oliver's recipes and all of the River Cafe's – has a lovely sauce which she does with home made Cannelloni in 'Marcella's Kitchen' and even more simply with macaroni in another book. Even the little darlings lick their lips. This also fuelled me around the Isle of Wight on Sunday but don't let that put you off.
900g asparagus, 90g butter, 250ml water, 170g boiled unsmoked ham, grated parmesan to taste
milk, butter, flour salt, nutmeg
homemade pasta (or dried macaroni on a weekday evening)
Trim the asparagus and place in a pan with the butter water and a little salt. Cover and cook untill tender but firm. Roughly chop the ham and the cooked asparagus in a food processor – big lumps are good. Make the bechamel and mix with the asapragus and ham. Add the parmesan. If you're making Cannelloni, save half the sauce to pour over the top before baking. Either stuff your Cannelloni or combine the sauce with the macaroni and pop it in a hot oven for 15 – 20 minutes.