by Matt Jackson, The Sidney Chef | photo by Janis Jean Photography –
Nothing signals the arrival of spring like fresh asparagus at the market. The incredibly flavourful vegetable has a relatively short growing season that peaks between April and the end of May. But whether you boil, bake or sauté it, this easy-to-cook vegetable makes up for it with an incredible amount of versatility and is the ideal addition to breakfast, lunch or dinner. Low in calories, the fibre-rich asparagus is one of the most nutritionally-balanced vegetables, chock full of vitamins such as folic acid, potassium, thiamin and vitamins A, B6 and C. I recommend enjoying the green variety offered here in the Victoria area. It’s just as flavourful as the white at far less the cost.
The beauty of asparagus is that it can be a standalone vegetarian dish or can accompany a meat dish just as equally. It’s one of my favourite vegetables to work with due to its diversity … and there’s also that rumour it has the additional benefits of functioning as an aphrodisiac!
CHICKEN STUFFED WITH ASPARAGUS
2 chicken breasts
1 bunch of asparagus, ends removed
6 slices of crispy cooked bacon
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup goat cheese
2 tbsp cream
2 sprigs each thyme
and rosemary, chopped
baby potatoes (about 4-5 per person, depending on appetite)
salt and pepper
Place asparagus ends, goat cheese, 2 cloves of garlic, cream, salt and pepper in a blender. Blend till smooth. Add crispy bacon and fold in. Place in ziplock bag and set aside.
Take chicken and cut a hole on the thick side of the breast. Preheat oven to 375°.
Cut a hole in the corner of the bag. Place the open end of your ziplock bag in the chicken and fill. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a pan with olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and lightly sear each side. Transfer to a pan and prepare asparagus and potatoes.
Asparagus and Potatoes
In a bowl place olive oil, chopped garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add asparagus and potatoes. Toss to coat all. Add to oven with chicken. Cook for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve family style. Find a large serving tray and make a pile of asparagus and potatoes on either side of the dish. Take chicken, cut in half and place in the centre of the dish. If you like lemon, garnish with a few slices.
1 bunch asparagus: cut on an angle in larger chunks (approx. 1.5 inches)
1 bunch radish, sliced thinly
10 black olives, cut in half
1/4 cup capers, chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
parmesan cheese for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
In a mixing bowl mix chopped capers, mayo, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper then set aside.
Bring a pot of water up to a boil and add a little salt to season the water. Beside the boiling water, have a bowl filled with ice water. Once the water is boiling, add asparagus and cook for two minutes. Then place immediately in the water bath for around five minutes (until chilled) and pat dry with kitchen or paper towel.
Coat the bottom of the bowl with the dressing, then place asparagus on top. Season radish and olives with olive oil, salt and pepper and scatter them on top of the asparagus. Finish with olive oil and grated parmesan.
ASPARAGUS & EGGS WITH HOLLANDAISE
1/2 bunch asparagus
handful of spinach
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter, melted
splash of lemon juice
splash of white vinegar
salt and pepper
In a bowl (suitable for using as a double boiler) whisk egg yolks and lemon juice. Place bowl over boiling water. Vigorously whisk egg yolks until they start to thicken. Be careful not to scramble. Once thick, slowly add butter. Season with salt and lemon juice. Set aside.
Toss asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper and place in oven at 375° for 15 min.
Fill a medium sized pot ¾ full of water, bring to a simmer and add a splash of vinegar. Crack eggs into simmering water and cook for 4 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon.
When eggs are cooking, quickly sauté garlic in olive oil then add spinach.
Make a bed for the eggs with your spinach and place eggs on top. Take the asparagus and make a semi-circle around your eggs. Season everything with salt, pepper and olive oil. Finish with the hollandaise on the eggs and a sprinkle of paprika for colour.