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The real sign that summer is on its way is the arrival into our kitchens of the first few bunches of British asparagus.
British asparagus is widely regarded by chefs to be the best in the world thanks to our unique climate, which helps the flavour to develop until it reaches its finest. But the season is short - it traditionally ends on Midsummer's Day - so you have to make the most of it while you can.
The most luxurious of vegetables, asparagus needs only a modest accompaniment. Anything that dares to compete with its delicate flavour is simply not worth the time. A simple dish of asparagus, grilled with herbs and olive oil, and ready to be dipped into the runny golden-hued yolk of a poached egg, is one of the few ways to truly do justice to this seasonal treat.
2 bunches asparagus (roughly 800g)
Freshly ground black pepper
A small bunch of herbs (anything you have in your herb garden: rosemary, thyme and oregano all work well), chopped
A drizzle of white wine vinegar (optional)
3 tbsp shaved manchego or parmesan
Wash your asparagus and chop off the woody, purple ends, keeping the rest of the stems whole.
Heat a large griddle pan on the highest temperature; fill and boil your kettle.
Put the whole stems of asparagus on a plate and toss with a generous glug of olive oil, the juice of the lemon, the herbs, salt and pepper.
When the griddle pan is hot, griddle the asparagus spears until nicely browned.
Meanwhile, place a deep pan on the heat and fill with boiling water until bubbling. If your eggs are very fresh, there is no need for vinegar, but otherwise you may wish to add a drizzle of white wine vinegar to help the eggs stay together.
When the spears are nearly ready, crack the eggs into the water and allow to cook for three minutes (it is important to be precise here to ensure the yolk is perfectly runny).
A few moments before the eggs are done, pop the asparagus onto plates and top with the poached eggs, shaved cheese and another drizzle of olive oil.
Tuck in while the asparagus is piping hot and the cheese is beginning to melt. If at home, you can be excused for forgetting your manners and picking up the spears with your fingers to dip into the warm eggs, prompting an explosion of runny yolk onto your plate.