It’s spring, but it feels like summer, meaning some seasonal treats are turning up a little bit earlier than usual. I saw English asparagus on menus a couple of weeks ago, and it popped up on the Farm Direct list last week, so I grabbed a bundle.
Then I committed the cardinal sin of early season asparagus and instead of cooking it as soon as I got it, dipping it into a perfectly runny egg, it languished in the fridge as I disappeared to Devon for the long Easter weekend. Bad Donna.
The stems were therefore a little sad when I rescued them from the salad drawer, but luckily tasted none the worse for their neglect once boiled briefly in with some pasta, then tossed in with spring onions, celery, creme fraiche and at the last minute, some wild garlic.
This is barely a recipe, more a greedy dinner from the fridge.
Spaghetti with asparagus and wild garlic
A serving of spaghetti (or any pasta of your choosing), amount according to your hunger
A skinny stick of celery, sliced
Two spring onions, sliced
A bunch of asparagus (this is quite indulgent for one serving: half a bunch would be more typical per person)
Glug of white wine or dry sherry (I used sherry)
Tablespoon of creme fraiche
Four leaves of wild garlic, sliced into thin ribbons
Get your pasta on, and set a timer for 3 minutes less than the pack says. When it beeps, you’ll know it’s time to add the asparagus.
While the pasta is cooking, gently fry the celery and spring onion in a shallow pan that’ll hold your pasta plus all of the vegetables. The celery and onion will cook before the pasta is ready, so when they are done, either turn the pan off or leave it on very low.
Wash the asparagus and snap off the woody bits at the end by bending the stem and letting it break where it wants to. Or if you’ve forgotten about your asparagus for a week and it’s more bendy than snappy, guesstimate by bending the stem and giving it a helping hand with a sharp knife. Cut the trimmed stems into short lengths.
When the pasta timer beeps, add the asparagus to the pan and either reset your timer for 2-3 mins if you’re prone to wandering off, or hungrily watch while the asparagus and pasta cook, muttering about how hungry you are. Taste both and when they’re cooked to your liking, use tongs to lift out into the celery and onion pan. Using tongs means some of the pasta water comes with the pasta, making a good sticky base for your sauce, such as it is.
Add a a glug of wine/sherry to the pan and increase the heat for a minute or two, then take it back down and add the creme fraiche. Add salt and pepper and give everything a good stir with tongs to make sure it’s all mingled well.
At the last minute add the wild garlic and toss about once more. Taste and add more seasoning if needed; I like quite a lot of pepper well with asparagus.
If your wild garlic came with flowers, they’re edible too (and pretty garlicky!) so both look very pretty artfully laid on top, and add an extra hit of garlic.