The Asparagus Table – La Vignarola – Italian Spring Soup, Wholemeal Asparagus Tart and Egg Asparagus Soldiers
Some of the simplest things in life are best, how often have you heard that remark? The long awaited asparagus season is here in New Zealand and keeping it simple with asparagus certainly highlights the veg at it’s best. My favourite way to eat asparagus is just lightly steamed served with eggs ‘anyway’ and lashings of butter, try a fun quirky way of serving the spears with your soft boiled egg using them as ‘dunking soldiers’. As I was eating the asparagus and boiled eggs my mind had already wandered onto truffle oil drizzled into the shell…watch out shopping bill, truffle oil may well be in the next basket.
The Italian spring soup La Vignarola is perfect for show casing not only asparagus but also lovely spring vegetables of podded peas and broad beans. If you can’t find them freshly podded and don’t have them sprouting away in your garden, snap frozen are pretty convenient and taste great too. A simple tart of asparagus with sour cream and mustard is easy for anyone to whip up, I made a wholemeal pastry but you can always buy pre bought if you are short on time or don’t have ‘pastry fingers’.
La Vignarola – Spring Soup
4 spring onions, sliced
2 bunches asparagus
200g frozen peas, defrosted
200g broad beans, podded (you can use frozen)
200g jar marinated artichoke hearts
3 cloves garlic
2 cups vegetable stock
Large handful each of parsley & mint, finely chopped
Zest and juice 1 small lemon
100g shaved Pecorino to serve
Salt & Pepper
Cut the woody ends off the asparagus spears and discard, then cut spears into three.
Place a little olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
Add the spring onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the asparagus, podded broad beans and stock to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the peas, artichokes juice and zest of the lemon to the saucepan and season with salt & pepper.
You can add some of the artichoke marinade to the soup also if you wish, tasting as you do.
Add the parsley and mint.
Bring the soup to the boil then remove from the heat and serve immediately, you want the veg to be crisp and green.
Serve the soup with shaved pecorino and crust bread
Asparagus Tart – serves 6
Ingredients – pastry
180g wholemeal flour
2 Tbsp iced water
pinch of salt
Method – Pastry
Place flour, butter and salt in the bowl and whiz until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the egg and water and knead together briefly to form a dough.
Rest the pastry in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Roll pastry out to fit tart tin and press into place, trim edges off pastry.
Ingredients – Tart Filling
1 bunch spring asparagus
250g sour cream
2 large free range eggs
2 heaped tsp whole grain mustard
salt & pepper to season
ground black pepper
Method – Tart Filling
Pre-heat oven at 180C & grease & flour a 20cm loose bottom tart tin.
Remove the woody ends from the asparagus and cut spear in half.
Whisk together the sour cream, eggs and mustard and season with a little salt & pepper.
Pour mixture into the pastry base.
Lay the asparagus half spears on top of the mixture in pastry case, alternating tip and base as in picture.
Grind some black pepper over the top of asparagus.
Bake in oven on a lower shelf (to crisp pastry base) for 35-40 minutes until tart is set and golden.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing tart from mould.
Serve warm of chilled