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Springtime Spears

This week marks the beginning of spring – the season that keeps on giving when it comes to anything green, especially Springtime Spears.

As a first offering, our local asparagus is coming through, shooting out to the sky as we speak in the fields of South Gippsland.

Interestingly enough, this region is responsible for 93% of Australia’s asparagus yield, and anyone who’s ever driven through Koo Wee Rup at this time of year can attest to the great expanses of proud green soldiers waiting to be dispatched to battle it out on our dinner plates.

When serving asparagus, the less you do to it, the better. In fact, early harvest asparagus is incredibly delicious sliced raw through salads – with a taste similar to fresh snow peas. The stems are so tender that you don’t even need to get rid of the stringy last bit. But you’ll have to be quick with these – they’re only around the market for the next few weeks.

If you’re going to cook your spears, a simple blanch in boiling well-salted water until bright green (about 1-2 minutes depending on thickness) is all they need. Normally, you’d finish such an endeavor by dunking the spears in iced water, but this means you can lose much of the heat. Instead, I blanch the asparagus to just before perfect, and let the residual heat cook it through – kind of like seafood.

Toss your blanched asparagus through butter or olive oil, season well with salt flakes and serve with whatever else you’ve got planned – be it poached eggs for breakfast, as part of a vego salad spread at lunch, or a roast chook for dinner. The best part about this versatile veg is that it really does lend itself to everything else on the table.

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