It’s a lean time of year, the hungry gap, when the winter crops end and we wait in anticipation for the start of the main season. Greens are in particularly short supply, hence the celebration of the first harvest of asparagus at the start of May. Their bounteous sugary green spears, pushing up towards the light, ready for their month of fame.
Asparagus originates from the eastern Mediterranean and can also be found growing wild in maritime habitats throughout Europe. I don’t have the space to try and grow it, but friends tell me once it’s established, it keeps going providing you keep on top of the weeds. It’s worth having a go with one-year-old crowns, if you have the space to dedicate to it, and well draining soil.
If not, then look out for it at your local farmers’ market, it will be the first thing to go, so it’s worth getting up early for. Here’s a quick, satisfying dinner I came up with last week.
Charred asparagus with tahini yogurt, sumac and toasted hazelnuts
Takes about 30 minutes – Serves 2
handful of hazelnuts
2tbsp of sumac
For the sauce
60g of thick yogurt
1tbsp lemon juice
half a garlic clove
For the bulgar
cup of fine-grain bulgar
cup and a half of boiling water with a touch of bouillon powder
1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
1. Rinse the bulgar well and place in a large bowl. Cover with the boiling water and add a touch of olive oil. Cover with a tea towel.
2. Chop the onion and the garlic. Fry on a low heat in olive oil.
3. Chop the garlic for the sauce and whisk the remaining ingredients together. Add a touch of salt to taste.
4. Get a large frying pan hot and brown the hazelnuts. Smash up roughly.
5. Give the pan a quick rinse and heat again. Add 2tbsp of olive oil and add the asparagus in a single layer. Cook for around 3-4 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears. Season with salt and black pepper.
6. To serve, mix the fried onion and garlic with the now cooked bulgar. Divide the asparagus on to two plates. Top with the hazelnuts, dollops of sauce, and sprinkle with sumac. Enjoy!