Once a favourite of Mme de Pompadour, asparagus has lost its ‘luxury’ status, but not for me. I’m excited to see the asparagus season has begun, an optimistic sign that summer really is just around the corner and the kitchen garden will soon be brimming with a wealth of new culinary offerings.

Melanie says: ‘Although asparagus will always be delicious simply steamed and served with hollandaise, I wanted to share this recipe with you to show what a useful raw salad ingredient it can be, too.

Hugely versatile, this asparagus salad tastes great on top of grilled fish or as a light lunch on tartine toasts with hummus and, my personal favourite, on top of seafood risotto’

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Crab risotto with a shaved asparagus salad

Serves 4
Ingredients
Risotto
800ml vegetable stock
1 pinch of saffron
1 onion, diced
100ml olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
200g arborio rice
150ml white wine
A handful of chervil
200g white crabmeat
20g butter
Seasoning
Salad
8 asparagus spears
1 spring onion
Splash of olive oil
1 lemon, zest and juice
3tbspn grated Parmesan
Seasoning

Method
Bring 800ml of vegetable stock to a simmer and add a pinch of saffron.
Then, using a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat, fry the chopped onion in olive oil until it’s translucent. Add the crushed garlic and rice to the pan and stir to coat the grains for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the white wine over it and stir until the wine is completely absorbed.
Keep stirring and add the vegetable stock a cup at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed fully before adding the next.
Continue until all the stock has been used and the rice is cooked.
Remove the risotto from the heat and stir the chervil, crabmeat, butter and seasoning through it.

For the salad, use a vegetable peeler to shave the asparagus spears and spring onion vertically-this works best with fatter spears-and toss them with olive oil, lemon zest and juice, grated Parmesan and seasoning. Serve the risotto immediately in warmed bowls and top with a bundle of the asparagus salad.

More asparagus recipes

Asparagus pizza

Method

Combine 200g white spelt flour, half a teaspoon dry yeast, a pinch of salt and 150ml warm water in a bowl. Mix to a dough and allow to rise in a warm place for half an hour before kneading and shaping into mini pizza bases.

Toss asparagus spears in olive oil and crushed garlic, and arrange them on rolled-out, olive-oiled pizza bases. Add Parmesan shavings and seasoning. Bake in a hot oven for 8-10 minutes.

To serve, drizzle with truffle oil and scatter with a handful of fresh chervil.

Asparagus and prawn tempura

For a Japanese slant on asparagus, make a tempura batter by mixing 150g cornflour and 50g flour, then gradually add soda water until you can make a figure of eight in the mixture.

Coat the asparagus spears and prawns with the batter and deep fry them for three minutes. Serve with chilli sauce.

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