It's the start of asparagus season. I love asparagus, especially when young and tender. But my children, like a lot of children, are less keen. I went on a mission to convert them with some asparagus fun in the kitchen.
The first thing to do with all asparagus is easy and fun for children to help with: getting rid of the hard bits at the bottom of the stalks. Get them to hold the bottom of the asparagus and hold the stalk vertical. Then get them to snap off the top with their the other hand. The asparagus should break where the hard bit starts. Throw away the hard bit (or if you're feeling keen, you can peel them and use in soups). The older the asparagus, the longer the hard bit. If the asparagus is very young, there is often no need to do this as it will be tender most of the way down.
Attempt 1: Boiled Eggs with Asparagus soldiers.
I boiled the asparagus for 5 minutes. Then I drained them and left them to cool on a plate. I melted some butter. I gave them some melted butter in an egg cup, a few asparagus and a soft boiled egg each.
The little chefs dipped their asparagus "soldiers" in butter and then into the egg.
Result: the most popular of the three dishes with everyone. Eldest gave it 10/10, Youngest gave 9/10 and both ate the lot.
Attempt 2: Mini Asparagus & Prosciutto Cakes (makes 6)
The little chefs broke 2 eggs into a bowl, then whisked them with a fork. They tore up 2 slices of prosciutto and snapped 6 asparagus into bits. They put the prosciutto and asparagus bits into the bowl and added 50g grated cheddar cheese and 45g self raising flour. They gave it all a mix. Then they spooned the mixture into 8 silicone cupcake cakes.
I baked them for 15 minutes at 190C/375F/Gas 5.
Result: Eldest's favourite and another 10/10 from her. Youngest was not so sure, but she did eat one without complaining.
Attempt 3: Cheesy Breadcrumbed Asparagus (makes 8)
The little chefs broke an egg into a bowl and whisked it with a fork. Then they poured the egg onto a plate. They mixed 30g grated cheese with 50g fresh breadcrumbs and put it on another plate. They dunked each asparagus stalk in the beaten egg. Then they rolled them in the cheesy breadcrumb mixture. They put the stalks on a baking tray. Finally, they sprinkled all the remaining cheesy breadcrumbs over the top of the stalks.
I baked them for 10 minutes at 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Verdict: My favourite of the three dishes, but not so popular with the little chefs. They would make great nibbles at a party.
Are asparagus their new favourite thing? No, but they have gone from "no way" to being prepared to eat them. I call that a result. Although I have to fess up to potentially skewing the results by telling Youngest (a massive Star Wars fan) that asparagus are light sabres and will give her the force. Anything to be a jedi...
UPDATE: youngest just asked for asparagus and was actually upset when I said we'd eaten them all. Result!
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