Now's the time to enjoy British-grown asparagus.

Despite asparagus being so readily available from far-flung destinations all year round, the British-grown crop is still a real treat that comes but once a year–now is the time.

Asparagus with garlic-and-almond sourdough crumbs and harissa rack of lamb (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 100g harissa paste
  • 1tspn turmeric
  • Half a teaspoon cumin
  • 2 French-trimmed racks of lamb
  • 200g sourdough breadcrumbs
  • 75ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 50g lightly toasted almond flakes
  • One bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 600g asparagus

Method
In a small bowl, combine the harissa, turmeric and cumin. Mix well and use to coat the racks of lamb. Place the meat in a dish, cover and marinate in the fridge for at least four hours.

In a large pan, fry the breadcrumbs in the olive oil and crushed garlic until golden. Season well, then mix in the toasted almond flakes, parsley and lemon zest.

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Gently brown the racks of lamb in a frying pan before cooking in the oven for 10 minutes—the meat will be medium, but adjust the time by two minutes either way for rare or well done. Leave the lamb to rest.

Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends, then boiling it in salted water for a few minutes. Drain well and toss with a little olive oil and the lemon juice. Scatter with the breadcrumbs and serve immediately with the racks of lamb.

More ways with asparagus

asparagusAsparagus-and-Parmesan soup
In a large saucepan, fry a chopped brown onion in butter. Once softened—but not browned—add
a crushed clove of garlic and fry gently. Remove the tips and woody ends from a bunch of asparagus (about 12 stems) and set the tips aside. Add the asparagus spears to the pan and cover with about 500ml of chicken stock. Simmer gently until the asparagus has softened, then purée with a stick blender and pass through a sieve. Drop the tips into boiling, salted water for a couple of minutes—so that they’re cooked, but still retain a bite—then dunk in cold water. Divide the soup between bowls and top with a few tips and Parmesan shavings.

Breakfast asparagus
Remove the woody ends from asparagus, then individually wrap the spears in half rashers of bacon. Grill until browned and serve as ‘soldiers’ with soft-boiled duck eggs—these will need to be boiled for 6–7 minutes for runny yolks.

A side of asparagus
My favourite way of serving asparagus is very simply to steam it, so that it retains a good bite, then drizzle with olive oil and a generous squeeze of lemon juice, salt, freshly ground black pepper and grated Parmesan—simple, yet delicious.