Our kitchen garden cooks savours delicious homegrown asparagus.

A world away in flavour from imported asparagus, our homegrown crop must be savoured in the weeks it is available to us.

Asparagus and baby-vegetable sweet-potato pizza

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 8 baby courgettes
  • 6 baby carrots
  • 10 asparagus spears
  • 10 sugar snap peas
  • 4tbspn pesto
  • 150g Parmesan
  • 3 handfuls baby spinach
  • 400g buffalo mozzarella
  • 2tspn chilli flakes
  • 1 lemon (zest and a couple of slices)
  • 2tbspn pumpkin seeds
  • Rocket leaves to serve

Method
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4 and line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into thin rounds. Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets in overlapping circles, to create two pizza bases, and bake for about 12–15 minutes or until almost soft.

Cut 4 of the courgettes, the carrots and asparagus spears in half lengthways and slice the remaining courgettes into thin discs.

Bring a pan of water to a boil and drop in the courgettes. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove to a bowl of iced water. Repeat with the carrots, but cook for 4 minutes, then the asparagus for 2 minutes and the sugar snap peas for 2 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the water and set aside.

Once cooked, drizzle the pesto over the sweet-potato base (rearrange the pieces first, if they’ve moved during cooking) and sprinkle over two thirds of the Parmesan. Top both pizzas with spinach, torn mozzarella and the cooked vegetables. Sprinkle over the chilli flakes, drizzle with olive oil and finish with the lemon zest, a slice of lemon and the remaining Parmesan. Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds and serve with lightly dressed rocket leaves.

More ways with asparagus

Crumbed asparagus with aioli

Line up 4 bowls and put a splash of olive oil in the first, flour in the second, beaten egg in the third and breadcrumbs in the fourth. Dip asparagus spears into each bowl consecutively, in that order, then fry in butter and oil for a few minutes. Serve with cheat’s aioli, made by simply mixing crushed garlic and lemon juice into mayonnaise. Serve as a starter or on top of
a chicken Caesar salad.

Fresh anchovy, sun-blushed-tomato and asparagus pasta (serves 4)

Cook 500g of wholewheat pasta in boiling water, adding 100g of asparagus, chopped into bite-sized pieces, for the last 2 minutes. Drain, return to the pan and add a generous splash of olive oil, a clove of crushed garlic, the juice of half a lemon, a splash of double cream, 100g of grated Parmesan, 50g of chopped fresh anchovy fillets, 75g of chopped sun-blushed tomatoes, seasoning and chilli flakes. Mix well, divide between four plates and top with Parmesan shavings. Serve with salad leaves.

Asparagus-and-orange salad

Toast thin slices of sourdough and rub with olive oil. Drop asparagus spears into boiling water for 2 minutes, then refresh in cold water. Arrange on the sourdough with a couple of segments of orange, crumbled feta and a sprinkling of rocket leaves. Mix together 2 parts olive oil to 1 part red-wine vinegar, drizzle over the salad, season and serve.