The hero harvest this week is asparagus. But don’t imagine that’s because I like it. I mean, I love to eatit, sure. But asparagus is, in my view, petulant. I wouldn’t grow it if you paid me. In fact, I was paid to look after a bed of it once when I was working in an organic kitchen garden and it was enough to put me off for life.
Those who manage it will tell you growing asparagus easy and very little work. But these are the chosen few; the sort of blessed people who have acres of growing space, lots of time, beautifully sandy soil and no bindweed. Us mortals growing in limited space on imperfect soil that’s full of weeds will find asparagus hard going. Asparagus likes its own room: lots of space to expand and stay in the ground all year. It doesn’t share well: hates weeds but you can’t hoe around it because the roots are very shallow and a hoe will damage them. Plus, asparagus a wimp: if its feet are damp or in anything other than very free-draining soil it will throw a wobbly. No, asparagus resembles a spoiled toddler far too much for me to entertain growing it.
Still, once it’s in the kitchen I couldn’t be happier and asparagus and I are great friends. It’s particularly good paired with hams or any sort and/or eggs and in this simple tart I’ve done both…
(Incidentally, there will be a raw ribboned asparagus salad with pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and parmesan for starter at my next supper club in Chipping Norton on Friday 24thMay. There are a few spaces left and if you’d like to come I’d be thrilled. This is an extra-special because it’s in partnership with Filippo Berio and guests will be heading home with a party bag of organic olive oils. Full menu and booking here.)