Tuesday, 18 June 2013

....enjoying the last week.

This is sadly the last week for English Asparagus.
No imports throughout the year can substitute this delicious, fresh little spear when it is grown, harvested and eaten within a day or two.
We are lucky to have an asparagus farm a couple of miles down the lane from us here in Kent, and we locals wait with eager anticipation each year for their sign to go up on the side of the road, announcing that the first pickings are ready and that their little pop up farm shop is officially open!

There are so many ways to cook this gorgeous early summer delicacy, but my favourite is to simply roast it in the oven with some olive oil and salt and pepper, and serve with shavings of parmesan.  

Today, I shall be trying something a little more special to mark the end of the asparagus season, with a new recipe from my favourite cook book of the moment 'The British Larder' written by Madelene Bonvini-Hamel.....this beautifully written book takes the reader through each season and has one fabulous, inspiring 
recipe after another. 

Photos: Sophia Home

Today's recipe is 'Chicken Escalopes with New Season English Asparagus Salad'

Serves 2 as a main course:

2 organic or free-range skinless, boneless chicken breasts
50g coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
30g Hawkstone cheese (Suffolk hard cows' milk cheese), grated
or finely grated parmesan cheese
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a bunch of asparagus (200-250g) trimmed
125g fresh (or frozen) broad beans (shelled weight)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
2-3 tablespoons rapeseed oil
6 cooked cold new potatoes, halved
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
a bunch of watercress to garnish

Butterfly the chicken breasts.  To do this place each breast flat on a chopping board.  Place one hand on top of a breast to hold it in place and then with the other hand, carefully insert a sharp knife through the thickest part of the breast and slice it horizontally in half without cutting all the way through. 
Place each butterflied chicken breast in a small polythene food bag and use a mallet or rolling pin to flatten the breast slightly.
For the breadcrumb mixture, combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, oregano, lemon zest, grated cheese and cayenne pepper in a bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

Blanch the asparagus and broad beans together in a large pan of boiling salted water for 1 - 2 minutes, drain and refresh in iced water and then drain again. Pop the tender, bright green broad beans out of their outer grey skins by squeezing gently.  Discard the outer grey skins and reserve the inner bright 
green beans and set aside.  

Heat 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil in a non-stick frying pan and pan fry the coated chicken escalopes over a medium heat for 12-15 minutes or until thoroughly cooked and golden brown all over, turning them regularly.  Drain on kitchen paper.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil in a separate non-stick frying pan and sauté  the new potatoes for 7-8 minutes or until golden.  Add the blanched asparagus and reserved peeled broad beans and cook for a further 1 minute, then remove from the heat.

Serve the hot chicken escalopes with the warm potato salad and garnish with the watercress.

Bon appétit!

Do you have a favourite or interesting way of using Asparagus?  I would love to hear!

Sophia x


  1. Such a delight to have an asparagus farm next door! It's one of my favourite spring vegetables as well. Love it grilled or slightly cooked with only a touch of bit of cream butter.

    Madelief x

  2. I just like mine simple blanched with Parmesan cheese and sometimes roasted pinenuts