Food: Asparagus signifies the arrival of summer

editorial image

The arrival of the asparagus season means three things for everyone here at Mr Pickles’ Yorkshire Food Emporium. 
Firstly, it confirms the arrival of spring whilst promising the return of the hazy, sunny days of summer. 
In turn this means we can start to look forward to lots of other vegetables coming back into season. 
Fennel, peas, broad beans and more - they’ll be in our store and on your dinner table before we know it.
Finally, the arrival of asparagus means we can indulge in the ultimate seasonal treat. Because, although imported asparagus is available all year round, we much prefer to eat it fresh, which simply cannot be done if it’s being transported all the way over from Peru. 
And, as with all seasonal food, not only is asparagus worth the wait, we think it tastes better for it.
A member of the lily family, asparagus has been eaten for centuries and an Egyptian frieze dates the vegetable back to at least 3,000 BC. However, it didn’t make its way to our shores until the 16th century - not that the late arrival has stopped us from enjoying asparagus as one of our quintessential English delicacies. 
With each plant taking three years of careful cultivation before it can produce its first useable crop, and each one only producing around a dozen spears at a time, British asparagus will never be the most prolific of vegetables. 
And, once you’ve taken into account it’s only in season for around eight weeks, and the need to pick each crop by hand, it’s not really surprising that seasonal eaters serve this vegetable as a special treat. 
We’re a little too far into the season to enjoy the younger crop now, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the slender baby spears are fantastic served raw with a lemon and rapeseed oil dressing. 
As the crop matures, we like to steam, roast or chargrill our asparagus. 
If you must boil, do so very briefly so that the spears retain as much flavour as possible. 
Delicious with eggs and ham, asparagus is a great low-carb alternative to the muffin in eggs benedict, but also works well in a pasta dish with lemon, chilli and a few gratings of a hard ewes’ cheese. 
Take a look at our blog on our website (www.mrpicklesfoodstore.co.uk) for full recipes.
For lots of fresh asparagus, as well as many more seasonal treats, head to our Abbeydale Road store - we’re open from 8am to 8pm every day.