I have made no secret of my love for asparagus, especially the delicate white kind that is popular here in Germany. It symbolises the true start of spring and finally the end of those deep, dark winters. Since moving to Berlin (many, many years ago) I have grown to love living in a country that has proper seasons. While I am not exactly in a mediterranean environment where of course Berlin can suffer from some rainy weeks in the summer or spring seems to suffer a slight delay from that dreaded winter, it is nice to have a bit more seasonality. A friend of mine (from southern Italy) once told me that British weather is crazy, that it is more or less the same all year round with the odd rain or snow blizzard thrown in or a 2 day sunshine binge where every Brit goes wild. It is true (and I secretly quite like that..) but what comes with having proper seasons is a real guaranteed and timely joy in seasonal eating.
Each year little stands of the local Beelitzer asparagus pop up across the city. I like to think of myself as a true German in that respect where I am the first to queue up as soon as they go on sale. It is a real snooze you lose situation – stand back and form an orderly queue will only mean that you walk away empty asparagus handed.
Asparagus season is also surprisingly short, which is why I make the most of it. I kick start the season with a White Asparagus Soup and I love nothing more than serving up a real classic – White Asparagus in a Chive Sauce with Cured Ham. I am also a huge fan of green asparagus and tends to crop up as a side dish to most meals during these precious months.
This White Asparagus with a Herb Dressing, Almonds and Capers is delicious. It is a wonderful side to some roasted meats or fish and so easy to make. I roast the asparagus first with the herb dressing and capers, then about 5 minutes towards the end I top the asparagus with the almonds so that the nuts are lightly browned and toasted.
- 500g white asparagus
- 2 tbsp small capers
- 50g flaked almonds (or small pieces)
- Juice of half a lemon
- Bunch of fresh herbs (I use thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
- Salt/ pepper
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
- In a small mixing bowl add the herbs, lemon juice and garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Coat the asparagus in the herb dressing. Place the asparagus in a roasting tin and drizzle over any leftover dressing.
- Place in the oven for 12 mins.
- Take out of the oven and top with the capers and almonds.
- Place back in the oven for another 7-10 mins.