May - Asparagus and Crab
Asparagus officinalis is a member of the lily family and can be traced back to Greece over 2,500 years ago.
- Asparagus is one of the most sought-after delicacies in the vegetable world due to its intense and distinct flavour.
- It can be purple, green or white depending on how and where it is grown and when it is cut.
- It is great for a simple starter and could be used in a vegetable quiche or as an accompaniment to meat and fish dishes.
- With a short growing season, asparagus is at its best from May to July in Britain.
- Asparagus is easy to grow. Advice on growing your own asparagus is available from the Royal Horticultural Society: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/vegetables/asparagus
- Asparagus is a great source of fibre and potassium and is high in vitamin A and C.
- It contains more folic acid than any other vegetable.
- Including lots of fruit and veg like asparagus in your diet will help you to stay healthy as they are naturally low in calories and fat. Evidence shows eating 5 portions of fruit and veg a day can help reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke and obesity.
- 5 spears of asparagus = 1 of your 5 a day.
How to prepare:
- Look for straight, firm shoots with closed tips and good colouring.
- Before eating, wash the asparagus is cold water and remove the bottom end of the stalks. The end of fresh asparagus will snap off easily.
- Boiling – add to a pan of boiling water for 3-5 minutes (thickness dependent)
- Steaming – place in a steamer for 4-7 minutes (thickness dependent). The stalks will cook quicker than the tips for a perfect result
- Roast – Season with salt and drizzle over oil then put it the oven for 15 minutes
- Grill – Season, oil and put under the grill for 5 minutes
- Serving – Asparagus is perfect served with hollandaise sauce or warm melted butter. it can also be wrapped in prosciutto and topped with parmesan or mixed in with other vegetables for a nice vegetable side dish.
- Asparagus quickly loses its taste and texture once it is picked so it is best to eat it on the day of purchase. If this is not possible, it should be stored in the fridge with damp paper towels wrapped around the stalks or in a jug of water.
Crabs belong to the crustacean family Decapoda which includes lobsters and prawns.
- The outside skeleton of the crab protects its sweet flavoursome flesh inside
- There are over 4000 species of crab which range from the 5mm wide pea crab to the Japanese spider crab which has a leg span of over 2m
- Some species of crab date back over 2 million years
- The most common species of crab eaten in the UK is the common edible or the brown crab.
- Female flesh tastes sweeter than males
- Crab can be enjoyed in salads, sandwiches, with pasta or on its own with chilli or lemon
- Crabs are available from April until November
- Crab is packed with omega-3, vitamin B, iron and zinc.
- Crab is a good source of trace minerals, which help to counteract cancer and chromosome damage. They also help to increase our resistance to viral and bacterial infections.
- It is recommended that regular fish-eaters should avoid eating brown crabmeat too often but there is no limit to the amount of white crab meat consumed.
- Learn more about eating crab and other shellfish as part of a balanced diet here: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/fish-shellfish.aspx
How to prepare:
- Choose crabs that feel heavy and that do not have liquid sloshing inside. Buying a live crab will ensure maximum freshness but buying a whole cooked crab or just the meat from a trusted supplier is a suitable alternative. Never buy a whole uncooked dead crab as you do not know when it was killed and could be harmful.
- Learn more about responsible and sustainable purchasing of crab and other fish here: http://www.goodfishguide.org/
- Boiling – Place the crab (not live) into a pan of boiling water and cook for 20 minutes for 1kg and and extra 10 minutes for every extra kg.
- Once cooked, twist off the claws and legs and break open the shell. Remove the stomach sac and gills. The meat can be spooned out and you can use a skewer to remove the meat from the claws.
- Cooked crab meat can be kept in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.
We have pulled together some of our delicious recipes using asparagus and crab for you to try below. Alternatively search our recipe collection here for many more recipe ideas.