One of the things I like most about spring is harvesting asparagus. Having passed the ‘leave it for two years for the plants to grow before you can harvest’ phase, we are now rewarded with plump spears pushing their way rapidly out of the ground.
Like ‘they’ say when it’s this fresh you need only to quickly cook the spears for the best flavour.
My hot tip is to leave picking your asparagus until immediately before you are about to cook. This is because some of the sweetest flavours quickly disappear the longer the asparagus is out of the ground.
For our first asparagus lunch of the year we quickly sauteed the sliced asparagus along with some of TB’s home-cured prosciutto …
We then stirred this through some cooked orichette pasta and served with some parmesan cheese. Simple and really sweet to taste.
Despite the downpour our tomatoes have said sod it with this weather and decided to ripen anyway.
But this year my heart doesn’t seem to be in making lots of chutney and with the rain all I’m doing is cocooning in the house.
Thank heavens for Amanda Vanstone! (never thought I’d say that!) Not only did she save Christopher Pine’s ‘bacon’ on the first episode of Annabel Crabb’s Kitchen Cabinet (ABC 2, Wednesdays at 9.30pm), but she provided the simplest tomato and pasta recipe ever, (to be fair it is an Italian staple) – pasta with tomato sauce.
Take about 6 cloves of garlic, peel but don’t cut them up and heat them in a generous amount of olive oil (at least 4 tablespoons) for about 10 minutes, without letting the garlic brown. The aim is to extract the flavour, not cook the garlic.
In the meantime take your pile of garden tomatoes stick them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave for a minute or so, then take them out and peel the skin off them. Amanda also had a very handy tip here – stick a fork in the stem end of the tomato so you’ve got something to hold onto when peeling. Having done this you either cut or squish the tomatoes to remove as many of the seeds as possible. When all the tomatoes have been peeled and de-seeded you throw them into the garlic infused oil and let them cook down to a paste-y consistency for 15-20 minutes Stir every 5 minutes to stop them sticking.
In parallel with cooking the tomato you should be cooking your pasta. It is a truism that to make the best of a simple dish you need the best ingredients – so we used the ‘good’ pasta, La Bruzzese Casalinga, made in South Australia, for this dish. You can to see the very rough surface of the pasta, which is perfect for hanging on to all that oily-tomato sauce.
BTW don’t forget the bread to sop up any left-over juices.