I overheard two young mothers talking at the vegetable section recently "I'd buy them but I wouldn't know how to cook them!" and so they both moved on leaving behind one of my favourite vegetables.
I remember a time when the only contact I had with asparagus was seeing them in those tall cylindrical tins on the supermarket shelf- only to be bought on very special occasions- even at that it was only my father and I that ate them!
I certainly never saw them growing in our vegetable patch or for many years, saw them sold fresh in the supermarket. Oh how that has all changed - no longer are they considered "posh nosh" - they are now in the vegetable specials hosted by the German discounters for 39c a bunch!
With all that in mind I thought perhaps if you are in the same boat - you see asparagus in the vegetable section but are unsure how to cook them - I should share my favourite way to cook them. I usually throw in a couple of jacket potatoes alongside the asparagus so that they all bake together - no washing and two for one - sorted!
Serves 3-4 as a side
12 Spears of fresh asparagus (roughly two bunches)
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/ 375ºF/ Gas Mark 5.
Trim 3-4cm (2") off the ends of the asparagus spears, discard the woody ends.
Place the spears onto a large rectangular sheet of foil, allowing a wide border of foil (15-20cm or 6-8") around the asparagus. Dot knobs of butter onto the asparagus and season.
Bring the sides together and scrunch the foil to create a tight seal, then twist the ends like a Christmas cracker. This insures that the asparagus will steam in their own buttery juices- yum!
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the spears are tender when pierced with a knife.
I like to serve these as a side for four but on a special occasion they are also really tasty served with a poached egg for two.