This month is an exciting month for our Featured Ingredient section. Why I hear you ask? Because this month I am launching my Cocktail of the Month! This is in conjunction with the pre-exsiting Featured Ingredient, so as you can imagine picking an ingredient for this month was an interesting task! Sure I could have taken the easy road and picked a type of fruit. Fruit is easy to pair with cocktails, but anyone who knows me knows that the easy road is not one I enjoy. So I decided that this month’s ingredient was going to be a vegetable. After all it is spring, and spring is all about beautiful vegetables. Without further ado my featured ingredient for November is…….. (Drum Roll)…….. Asparagus!
Asparagus is one of those vegetables that can often get a bad wrap, usually because it has been over cooked which turns it bland and rubbery. However when cooked right, which means barely cooked at all, it is the perfect addition to almost any meal. The most popular and commonly found asparagus is the Green Asparagus which is very herbaceous in taste, and can be found either as normal asparagus or as a mini version which is great for cocktail parties. Another and ever growing in popularity is the White Asparagus. The difference between this and the green asparagus (besides cost!) is that the white asparagus is grown in the dark. This is very popular in restaurants however can be quite expensive, due to the limited supply. Next have the Purple Asparagus. Purple asparagus is a different variety to the Green and White, the reason for its colour is that it has a high level of anthocyanins, because of this it has less fibre and is therefore more tender than both the white and green varieties. The purple asparagus has a fruiter flavour and I highly recommend you try some if you can manage to get your hands on any! And lets not forget the native Sea Asparagus, also known as Samphire! This is best paired with fish or lightly blanched and added to salads.
When buying asparagus look for…
Asparagus is typically purchased in bunches. They should be firm, bright and have smooth spears of uniform size with closed, compact tips and without blemishes. When you snap freshly harvested asparagus, it should be crisp and juicy.
How to cook it…
I have lost count on how many way you can have asparagus. Its one of those amazing vegetables that tastes divine no matter what cooking method you use. I like to grill mine on the BBQ as I think the smokey flavour you get when BBQing really brings out the herbaceous nature that asparagus has. You can also bake it, blanch it, pickle it, shave it, and deep fry it. You can add it to pasta’s and risotto’s and even add it to fresh salads for that little something special.
I’m very excited to share with you, all there is to know about the amazingly awesome asparagus!