The asparagus season officially starts on St George’s Day 23 April and many of our local restaurants will be featuring asparagus for the next few months. Our local asparagus is now a protected delicacy. One of my favourite dishes is simple steamed asparagus with a couple of lightly boiled duck eggs and some lovely seeded toast. Delicious.
On a slightly more adventurous note here is my recipe for an asparagus quiche without the pastry – a healthier alternative to the traditional pastry version. The cheese does not have to be a specific variety and my favourite is a mixture of goats’ cheese and gruyere. The asparagus and leeks can also be replaced with different vegetables if you don’t happen to have the ‘correct’ ones. This type of crustless quiche also works well in individual ramekins, a bit like soufflés without the puffiness, the only difference being that is no waiting trepidatiously for them to rise; and subsequently no disappointment when they don’t. Scrummy.
Crustless Asparagus Quiche
150g of asparagus spears cut into 3cm lengths
15ml olive oil
2 leeks finely sliced
100g feta / goats’ / gruyere cheese grated
Fresh chopped herbs – thyme or tarragon works well
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 190°C, fan 170°C or gas 5. Put a shallow 26cm baking dish or tart tin in the oven whilst the oven warms up. Swirl the oil round the hot tin and add the leeks, cook in the oven for 10 minutes then add the asparagus and cook for a further 5 minutes. Swish everything around so that the sides of the dish are oiled.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling by beating together the eggs and milk, stir in the cheese, herbs and seasoning. Mix well. Stir in the leeks and asparagus. Pour the mixture into the baking dish gently encouraging an even distribution of the vegetables. Bake for around 25 to 30 minutes until the top is lightly golden and the quiche begins to shrink away from the sides. Remove the dish from the oven and allow to set for 5 minutes or so then gently ease a knife around the edge. Remove from the dish and serve with a salad.
This dish is great hot or cold, ideal for a picnic and can be frozen.
Asparagus takes centre stage at The Fleece Inn and other venues around the Vale of Evesham. visit http://www.britishasparagusfestival.org to find out more.