Adriaen Coorte | Still Life with Asparagus, 1697 | Rijks Museum
We love cooking with ingredients that are in season, and now is the perfect time for white asparagus. In Europe we have a preference for the white asparagus over the green ones. It is more delicate and subtle in taste.
This preference goes back a long way. Even in the 17th century Adriaen Coorte painted this lovely small piece: Still Life with asparagus. Although the asparagus at the bottom already turned a bit purple and green. They had a bit more light than the creamy white ones on top. For it’s time the painting is very minimalistic in comparison to the extravangant still life paintings of his colleagues. But by being so modest, all the attention goes out to this single vegetable. Just like the way we like to eat them: Simple, with pure ingredients.
And because Adriaen was a painter from Zeelandic Flanders, the only way to prepare them is the classic Flamish way: asparagus à la Flamande.
Asparagus à la Flamande
500 gr white asparagus
3 hardboiled eggs
125 gr butter
10 gr parsley
a bit of sugar
a pinch of mace or nutmeg
salt and pepper
optional (but recomended) 200 gr of leg ham, cut into strips.
There are special asparagus pans so you can cook them standing up, leaving the tips to steam above the water, but you can also use a big pan in which you cook them laying down.
Peel the asparagus and cut of the last two centimeters of the stems. Don’t trow awary the peels and stems, but put them on the bottom of the pan. Fill the pan with water, put in some butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil.
Put the asparagus in the boiling water, let them cook for 6 minutes and remove them from the fire. Let them stand in the hot water for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, chop the parsley and the boiled eggs and mix them together.
Melt the butter (don’t let it brown) and mix half of it through the egg-parsley mixture.
Salt and pepper to taste.
check if the asparagus are cooked. Take one out of the water, they have to bend a little but not be totally limp. Put the asparagus on a plate and cover with the egg-parsley mixture. Pour over the rest of the butter and some extra pepper.
Serve with some nice cooked new potatoes (you can leave the skin on) and some good ham.
Lovely with a nice glass of pinot blanc!